The WCF Health & Wellbeing Initiative
The complexity, coupled with constant high levels of risk and relentless uncertainty within agriculture take a tremendous toll on those who work tirelessly to grow our food sustainably and cost effectively.
Recognising this in 2017 Philip Wynn, Master of the Worshipful Company of Farmers, initiated a meeting of all the rural support groups to understand in more detail the issues and challenges being faced and how it might be possible to share best practices in the future. It became clear that the issue of ‘health and wellbeing’ within agriculture was not generally understood within the wider industry and that there were significant resourcing and funding issues.
It was also clear that the mental suffering and stress amongst the younger age group was significant and that there was a real opportunity to help and educate those who were about to embark on a career in agriculture.
Philip has been working with Farmers Weekly and a series of articles will be published this autumn to raise awareness and help all those in the sector to improve their ‘health and wellbeing’ in order to meet the enormous challenges that are anticipated in the post ‘Brexit’ world. The positioning of the editorial will be to demonstrate the many routes to resilience that will enable people to get the balance right and develop healthier thinking to farm well for the future.
The initiative has been continued under the current Master Julian Sayers and a second meeting of the Forum was held in April this year where there was clear agreement that a research project to evaluate the exact nature and scale of the problems being faced, as well as how they manifest and the way these are developing. It was agreed that more specific and analysed data would lend credibility to this initiative not only raising awareness, but through support for funding and the further extension of the rural support network. It might also lead to a national initiative similar to the Farm Strong in New Zealand.
The Livery Company has now agreed to fund this important research project and it will be undertaken by Rose Regeneration and the University of Lincoln. It is due to be completed by the end of November this year. The scope of the report will cover the following key areas:
· Evidence of changes in the issues being faced within the rural sector and the likely trends for the future
· Regional and sectoral differences as well clarity of geographic areas where there is currently no support
· Resources required to support and develop organisations working within the rural community
· Ways in which we can further improve recognition of the issues
· The future priories for the Forum initiated by the Worshipful Company of Farmers
Gordon Gatward has now taken over as Chairman of the Health and Wellbeing Forum and the next meeting is due to take place at the end of 2018 to review the research report and consider the next steps. As part of our support for this initiative we have included on this section of our website a directory of all the organisations that currently provide support to those in need. This was kindly complied by Melinda Raker of YANA and we are very grateful for her work in undertaking this.