Winter help for farming communities

RSABI, Scotland’s only charity which helps to relieve poverty and hardship among people who have depended for their livelihoods on land-based occupations, is urging those who are suffering as a result of the recent weather crisis to get in touch.

Thanks to generous funding from The Prince’s Countryside Fund Emergency Fund and The Scottish Government, RSABI is able to provide financial support to farmers and their families who have hit crisis point as a direct result of the weather.

Summer 2012 was the second wettest in the UK since records began, and record-breaking wet weather meant a poor harvest for many farmers, resulting in higher costs to keep livestock and high seed prices for next year’s crops. 2013 plantings have also suffered in the already waterlogged ground.

In additional to financial support, RSABI’s existing, and well established, GATEPOST listening and support service will be a key element of the charity’s work as they deal with the consequences of the recent weather patterns, allowing those who feel overcome or fed up with financial or social problems to seek advice or someone to talk to.

Dr Maurice Hankey, RSABI Chief Executive, said: “RSABI is a people charity and we are here to help people cope with what life throws at them. Our primary focus is on helping to feed and keep warm individuals and families who are unable to do so themselves. Beyond the household we have a number of other support mechanisms from which to choose according to an individual’s position, including emergency business support and help to take the business forward.

“We can help, but we can only do so if people get in touch with us, and discuss the problems they are experiencing. We have a good understanding of what farmers have been going through and after last summer and autumn, and the recent winter, no one should feel reluctant to seek help. But we need them to initiate the contact, either directly to RSABI or through our GATEPOST helpline.

“I am particularly keen to emphasise the importance that we place on confidentiality. Whether you call us in need of financial assistance or whether you are fed up and want to speak to someone at GATEPOST to relive some strain, confidentiality is our top priority. No one, other than the caller and the small team at RSABI, will ever know someone has been in touch.

“But please do get in touch. No two businesses or people are alike so we will look at putting a package of support in place to suit the needs of the individual. We have had a few spring like days in recent weeks but it will take much more than that for many people to forget or overcome the hardships brought about by 2012 and early 2013 weather patterns. RSABI is here to do what we can to make such events easier to cope with.”

Application forms for financial assistance can be obtained from RSABI’s website or by calling either RSABI (0131 472 4166) or GATEPOST (0300 111 4166).