Its day three of Small Charities Week, a week where smaller organisations across the UK receive some recognition for the work they deliver.
We are doing the same here at Support Cambridgeshire, albeit with a distinctly Cambridgeshire flavour.
Today its the turn of the Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group.
As with previous articles in this series, Support Cambridgeshire comments will be italicised to ensure clarity and ownership.
So what do they do?
The Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group is a local Charity that is part of a national network of rural support groups. It is dedicated to combating stress in rural areas.
Farmers and rural people are dealing with increasingly complex and demanding issues. We all know about the weather, but mix into the equation animal disease, uncertain commodity prices, business, personal debt and ill health and its no surprise that sometimes people need help, support and guidance.
The Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group offer a totally free and confidential service to help and support farming families and people living and working in the rural community.
Statistics show that more than one farmer a week in the UK takes their own life, and the NHS acknowledges rural people are some of the hardest to reach, only seeking help and support when a situation has become desperate.
The Beds and Cambs Support Group provide a much needed link between the rural community and access to Mental Health provisions, which can be both statutory and non-statutory.
When did they form?
The Group formed in 2001 as a direct response to the Foot and Mouth crisis. I doubt if anyone could forget those heart rending images on farms and small holdings across Cambridgeshire and beyond. The outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease caused a crisis in British agriculture and tourism. The epizootic saw 2,026 cases of the disease in farms across most of the British countryside, with over 6 million cows and sheep being killed in an eventually successful attempt to halt the disease. Between 800 million and 2.4 billion was lost from British Agriculture as a direct result of Foot and Mouth, with over 15,000 jobs lost across the UK in rural communities.
What challenges do they face?
Its a similar theme in Small Charities Week but on-going funding and finding enough volunteer resource is critical to help and support the Group.
The Group is completely self-funding at the moment and need to publicise their events in order to generate support.
Another key challenge is spreading the word amongst the far flung corners of the rural world. It can be difficult to support people if they simply do not know that advice and guidance is available.
What do people say about them?
“I really couldn’t see a way forward. Everything became too much for me to cope with. I am so grateful for all the help and support I received”
“The Support Group helped me to apply for disability payments. The extra money has made life easier. I don’t have to worry about affording me heating bills.”
“I really appreciated someone to listen to me”
The Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group is a registered charity (no 1092949).
They have a helpline which can be accessed at 0300 323 1244.
Their website can be viewed by clicking here:
Support Cambridgeshire commentary:
I think we all have a view of the rural idyllic. Whilst there may be magnificent and breathtaking views to be had, more and more research is now available making known the issues of mental well-being, social isolation, anxiety and stress amongst those who live and work in our rural communities.
In the suicide rankings by profession, farmers are nearly twice as likely to commit suicide as the general population and are ranked fourth, behind veterinarians, pharmacists and dentists: A shocking statistic by any stretch of the imagination. Organisations like the Beds and Cambs Rural Support Group provide a valuable lifeline (often quite literally) to our rural communities, and rightly deserve a spot in our small but vital organisational profiles this week.