HELP AT HAND: Jo Turnbull, RABI trustee
HELP AT HAND: Jo Turnbull, RABI trustee

ALTHOUGH The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution is a farming charity, you don’t have to be a “charity case” to seek our support.

Many of the working people we assist are just ordinary farmers and farmworkers, who are trying to do their best for themselves and their families. However, when circumstances conspire, it’s easy to get into difficulty through no fault of your own.

Often, it’s a downward spiral, with one setback quickly followed by another. Farming is an unpredictable business at the best of times. A small amount of help at the right time might be all it needs to get someone back on track.

In January, we received 93 new requests for help and 58 came from working people. Two of these cases were from Durham. So what’s happened to those families since those initial calls in January?

We’ve already helped in 37 cases, usually by providing quick and vital financial assistance. We sent money to a farmer who cannot work at the moment because of prostate cancer surgery.

Another farmer who received a cheque from us was struggling to repay loans that he’d taken out because of TB. We helped pay some of his domestic bills.

A further 51 of those cases are “in progress”, meaning our staff are still talking to people, gathering information, working out plans of action and assessing what’s needed. We’ll do whatever it takes to help them and if we can’t provide the assistance they need, we’ll liaise with other organisations and agencies on their behalf.

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That means out of those 93 January ‘referrals’, there were only five cases where we said “sorry, we can’t help” at the outset.

In a couple of cases, people changed their minds and withdrew their applications.

We were unable to help in other situations because those seeking our support had too much capital or savings.

There are many reasons why these 93 individuals/ families turned to RABI in the first place but common factors were illness, injury, housing issues, mental health problems, debt, animal disease, late BPS payments and family issues, such as a bereavement or divorce.

Some contacted us because they are still playing catch-up from problems caused by last year’s weather.

I’d hate to think that these families had been suffering unnecessarily for many months before telephoning RABI in sheer desperation, when they had nowhere else to turn.

If you work in farming and are finding things tough give us a call on 0808 2819490. Like I said, you really don’t have to be a charity case in order to ask for our help.