RURAL CHARITY RSABI is gearing up to offer additional support to farming and crofting families, who are not only sharing the widespread public concern about Covid-19, but are also dealing with the long hours and stresses of lambing, calving and other spring work.

The charity is also reminding farmers and crofters that it is very much open for business and ready to offer financial, practical and emotional support. The charity’s helpline - 0300 1114166 - continues to be fully operational and available 365 days a year, from 7am to 11pm.

In particular, the charity is urging people in the agricultural community to try harder than ever to find time to talk to each other, given the additional strains being felt at this already hectic time of year.

“On farms up and down the country at this time of year families are working very long hours to ensure animals are well looked after and spring work is done," said organiser Mags Granger. "They are delivering vital work to help provide food but too often they forget to look after themselves properly at this stressful and tiring time of year."

It can also, said Mrs Granger, be hard to find the extra time to make that phone call to check that an elderly or vulnerable friend, neighbour of family member is ok. However, this year in particular, when elderly people in rural areas could feel more isolated than ever, she said it was vital to keep a look out for each other.

“We have taken the decision to increase the frequency of the calls we are making to people we know could be lonely or in need of practical help with things like getting groceries to their homes,” she said, stressing that even small gestures of kindness could make a very big difference to the outlook of an anxious person living on their own.

Ms Granger also encouraged people to be vigilant for signs of stress, including looking out for someone being unusually dishevelled or perhaps drinking more alcohol than they would usually.

People who are affected may be grumpier than usual and reluctant to go out and about or answer the phone as well as failing to prioritise important tasks.

The key, said Mrs Granger, was to look for a change from what is normal for the individual causing concern. She also urged people not to ignore any signs which become evident, pointing out that if there is something wrong, the sooner that help is sought the better.

“The stark reality is that every week one farmer in the UK commits suicide so it is much better to ask and see if you can help, than to wish you had asked, after it is too late,” she added.

RSABI is currently helping 25 – 30 new clients every month and increasing its number of supporters is vital to ensure it can meet demand going forward. The charity is aiming to double the memberships of its individual, business and corporate membership schemes by autumn 2020.

Membership of RSABI’s Individual Supporters’ Scheme costs just £25 a year – just £2 a month. More information on becoming a supporter can be found on the website .