Looking after yourself and each other
It’s no surprise that farming can be a challenging and isolating profession. In our role at DHFP, we recognise and witness the pressure that many farm businesses are under on Dartmoor first-hand and have been working with charities and groups to provide support for those in need. Recent reports have sought to clarify the scale of this problem nationally, noting that the LFA grazing livestock sector is one of particular concern, such as the RABI Big Farming Survey and the FCN research into social isolation in farming.
We feel that it is essential to support the people who farm if you are to ensure farming as an industry not only survives, but can thrive, adapt and offer viable opportunities for the next generation. Raising awareness of what support is available and being clear that asking for help is a positive thing.
DHFP have strong connections with the Farming Community Network (FCN) and Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) who offer specialist counselling, while we develop and deliver local actions across Dartmoor. Our aim is to offer and encourage participation with a range of informal initiatives so that local people can access these, know where to turn for further help if necessary, or just to attend local events. For example:
Farmer Breakfasts - Reconnecting
Simply social get togethers, and food of course! We have helped to run a series of these recently around Dartmoor either in a farm kitchen, café or village hall. Supported by FCN who contributed to the initial costs & further boosted by the WTF fundraiser below, with a view to them becoming loosely regular events based around demand from the group - who tend to organise themselves, so get in touch with us for latest dates. We are very happy to support new groups so do get in touch if you are interested to create one in your area, most start small with 5-10 people, but all sizes are welcome!
Witheridge to Frenchbeer (WTF)
In memory of Mike Malseed, a group of friends and family followed ‘Mike’s life journey’ by walking, running, cycling and horse riding from Witheridge to Frenchbeer to raise awareness and funding for mental health support. Mike was born in Witheridge, Mid-Devon, but spent most of his life at Frenchbeer Farm near Chagford on Dartmoor. In 2021 Mike suffered a mental health crisis, which tragically resulted in him taking his own life.
The funds raised have been used to run specialist training events to help more people recognise the signs of those in need and to identify and signpost what help is available. Funds have also contributed to the farmer breakfasts, enabling more of these to take place and reduce isolation.
FCN was the official charity for Chagford Show this summer where we shared a stand to further highlight opportunities for support.
The DHFP Team and a small group from our farming community have undertaken Mental Health First Aid awareness training, alongside individuals linked to or regularly in contact with the farming community and this is something that we will continue to develop. This has included Farm Advisors, Rangers, Estates, Vets etc, and where possible we aim to supplement costs or link up to expand its reach. The WTF fundraiser has also supported training provision via Papyrus.
A pilot initiative developed by RABI who have approached DHFP to run a trial on Dartmoor, targeting upland areas specifically. This aims to identify community needs and any gaps in available support helping to develop individuals to support and signpost those in need to suitable services. It is a concept originally developed by the armed services and forms one of many new initiatives being developed by RABI in partnership with farm support networks across England. On Dartmoor we are supporting a women’s group with a focus on young mothers and farming wives. If you would like to participate, please contact us.
All of these providers can help you understand or deal with any problems and speak in confidence. The key messages are to come forward and ask for help if you need it, don’t increase your worries by letting things build up and get on top of you.
If you are interested in any of our activities, please contact the DHFP Team at firstname.lastname@example.org or Tel. 01822 890913 and do invite along a friend or neighbour. One of the benefits of getting involved in any of our projects or events at DHFP, is the ability to meet and chat with other farmers, which is a positive thing in itself and for many, a rare opportunity to take time away from the farm.