A CAMPAIGN which has encouraged Scotland's farming community to look after one another during the tough times of late has won a top UK public relations award.

The #KeepTalking campaign by rural charity RSABI has urged people to pick up the phone or find ways to connect with those who could be at risk of feeling lonely, anxious or unhappy given the additional impact of Covid-19 restrictions.

Initially what was a four week campaign – timed to cover the quieter period after spring work and run until what would have been the final day of the Royal Highland Show – has transformed into a powerful message which has continued for many months since, embraced by the wider agricultural industry.

Farmer and comedian Jim Smith was the face of the campaign, which also saw RSABI working with auctioneers from across the country as #KeepTalking ambassadors.

A high-impact video of a West Lothian farming family speaking openly about losing a member of their family to suicide was also launched to raise awareness of mental health and the importance of talking.

Lifting the British Guild of Agricultural Journalists’ (BGAJ) PR Award 2020, the judges said the campaign benefitted from 'clear strategic thinking' and 'great planning to coincide with the critical points where people might feel isolated, plus inspired use of auctioneers and industry figures people can relate to.'

Chair of RSABI, Ewan Pate, accepted the award on behalf of the charity at an online event run by the BGAJ.

“The RSABI team are totally committed to supporting those in need in Scottish agriculture and to have won this national award is wonderful recognition of their hard work, and the vital help of our supporters and volunteers across the country,” said Mr Pate.

In recent weeks the Scottish Association of Young Farmers Clubs’ Bale Art competition has used the #KeepTalking message, further extending the reach of the campaign throughout October

Chief executive of RSABI, Nina Clancy extended heartfelt thanks to all the individuals who had backed the campaign, adding that the message is still vitally important: “The importance of the #KeepTalking message continues, especially as we head into the winter months with restrictions still in place. It’s important we try to stay connected, make the time to check in on each other, call someone we haven’t spoken to for a while or catch up with those who may be feeling more isolated.

“We would strongly encourage anyone who is feeling low, or just not themselves, to find someone to talk openly with," she continued. "RSABI is also here to help – our helpline is open 365 days a year from 7am – 11pm on 0300 111 4166.”

Demand for RSABI services has never been higher and the charity is encouraging people and businesses to consider giving regularly to the charity by signing up to their Supporter Scheme from as little as £2 per month.

“A small monthly donation can make a huge difference," added Ms Clancy. "Over a year £2 per month covers the cost of six helpline calls, providing vital support.”

Information on the Supporter Scheme can be found at: https://www.rsabi.org.uk/Our-Supporter-Scheme