WITH COVID-19 currently looming over our heads and leaving many in self-isolation, those working in agriculture are continuing to work tirelessly in order to keep our nation fed.

In a time where it’s now more important than ever to pull together and support each other, a mother and daughter duo are doing their bit for the farming community with their newly formed ‘Lambing Buddy Network’, aimed to help those in isolated and rural communities who may be most affected by staffing and social isolation.

Debs Roberts and her daughter, Jess, of Perthshire, founded a now 5500-strong Facebook group ‘Ladies Who Lamb UK’ in January-2019, with the intention of connecting sheep-loving ladies from up and down the country.

“The group offers a safe platform for female sheep owners, farmers, shepherdesses and small holders to share expertise and support each other. Members can post photos, ask questions and share knowledge from the lambing sheds and fields. There are ladies who have joined from across the UK and a few international women as well – ranging from flocks of thousands to smallholders with only a handful of sheep,” commented Debs.

“The ladies are able share their woes as well as their successes. For many it is a lifeline at this busy time of year and due to the success of the group, we have also launched The CowGirls UK – a similar group for women working with cattle!” she added.

With the current pandemic resulting in many people becoming seriously sick and unable to work, the pair soon realised the problems this would cause for the most remote farming communities – specifically elderly or lone workers – who are unable to access help.

“One of the growing concerns we found about COVID-19 was for remote and lone workers in the agricultural sector who possibly don’t have anyone on standby to step in if they get sick. Who would look after livestock if the key person responsible is struck by illness or injury?” Debs stated.

In response to this, Debs and Jess have recently created a private Lambing Buddy Network for their group members throughout the UK, allowing them to search a member-only map for their closest Lady-Who-Lambs and request help.

“The response has been remarkable, with hundreds of buddies across the UK signing up in the space of a few days. We want to share the idea of Lambing Buddies because it’s a transferable concept that can offer support to other sectors in the agricultural and livestock industries,” added Jess.

“We have a really strong support group in Ladies Who Lamb UK, and it seemed logical to develop the Lambing Buddy Network to strengthen the links between the members of the group, in case of emergency – and to help create friendships in these uncertain times.”

“The group isn't just a fluffy Facebook group about cute lambs, it's a safe place where farming women can share skills, expertise and generally support each other with tips and solutions to problems in the lambing shed. Now, with the Lambing Buddy Network, it's also bringing people together physically and not just on social media,” Debs stated.

With the network increasing in popularity, the idea has already been adapted by BarnDoor UK and there are many more opportunities for the platform to be recreated across other agricultural sectors in order to help and support the most vulnerable within the rural community.


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