Lincolnshire Rural Support Network

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LRSN's next steps

LRSN's vice chairman, Matthew Phillips writes about our organisation's plans for the future.

I joined the LRSN to try and give back to our rural community. In the short time I’ve been involved I have been overwhelmed by the work that is undertaken by the volunteers and staff. Part of this help has been mental health-related and this is an increasingly important issue for the rural community. Our casework statistics reflect this and show that 65% of people who approached our charity last year have experienced some form of mental health-related problem and this is in line with national trends and the recent Worshipful Company of Farmers report.

Problems are linked to a number of factors within farming businesses coupled with large numbers working alone, and it’s sometimes not easy to get away from those problems. Family and farm are often intertwined, which can bring its own issues. Our rural community and farmers are sometimes people who don’t find it easy to talk about feelings.

One of my first jobs at the LRSN was to be involved in a strategy day. From this, it became very apparent that all volunteers, staff and board members wanted to try and offer more mental health provision to our clients. I am proud to have, strategically, been involved in forward planning and a year down the line we are taking a huge step and recruiting our own Health and Wellbeing Lead. This will be a new member of the team with formal mental health qualifications and that role will allow the charity to provide focused support to our clients and holistic, emotional, physical and practical solutions.

"65% of people who approached our charity ... have experienced some form of mental health-related problem"

The new team member will manage increased casework and will complement and work very closely alongside our existing team. It’s a decision that has not been taken lightly by the board and is part of our strategic planning for the medium- and long-term future of the LRSN. It is a huge step in terms of the enhanced service we can offer, and the charity will be proactive in sourcing extra funds to support the role.

As always, the support we receive locally is fantastic and we are researching other organisations to secure funding. We are also hoping to roll out new initiatives such as planning our own mental health awareness workshops for rural businesses throughout Lincolnshire.

In my short LRSN career, I can see what great work has been undertaken in the last 20 years by the charity. We have staff and volunteers from within the agricultural industry who understand the many complex issues and I hope that our new appointment will enhance and complement our service to the rural community.