Thursday, 20 December 2012

Weather-induced Crisis for Farmers

Some farmers are facing severe problems this winter following the very poor weather we've had across the UK this year. I quote from a recent article by Andy Rylands.

'Farm Crisis Network has confirmed that casework is already double that normally experienced at this time of year. The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution has paid out two-and-a-half times as much money in emergency grants to two-thirds more farmers than in the same period last year.'

The Prince of Wales' Countryside Fund has announced it will donate £150,000, the total amount available in its emergency fund, to help farmers who are struggling through the winter months as a result of this year's extreme weather. The Met. Office has confirmed that the summer of 2012 has been the wettest in the UK since records began. A drought across much of England during the spring was followed by this record-breaking wet weather; this has led to an exceptionally poor harvest for some farmers resulting, in turn, in higher costs for food to feed livestock and higher prices for the seed to grow next season's crops. In addition, the wet autumn has meant that it is difficult to prepare the ground for next year's crops. Around us, here in Ripon, we have witnessed some of this year's crops go to waste as they simply could not be harvested due to the impossibility of getting heavy machinery onto water-logged land. In addition to problems caused by inclement weather for growing crops and producing food, there have been health issues for livestock with very high incidences of liver fluke affecting cattle and sheep.

At a recent emergency meeting called by the Prince of Wales with the leaders of UK rural charities (the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution, Farm Crisis Network, the Addington Fund in England and Wales and RSABI in Scotland), it was agreed that £150,000 would be donated from the Prince's Fund to help farmers in crisis across the UK. The Duke of Westminster announced that he would personally match the funding. The Prince of Wales said,

'I have been growing increasingly concerned about the many difficulties which farmers from all sectors are facing - and are likely to face - this winter and so I thought it was important for us to come together, hear what we each have to report, and then I want to see what I can do to help through my Prince's Countryside Fund.'

The charities will use the money to boost the work they ordinarily do. Some supply food vouchers while volunteers have stared to carry Foodbank boxes in their cars to give immediate help when they visit farms. All the farming charities' helplines have received an increased number of calls, including calls from individuals contemplating suicide. This will be the first time that the Prince's Countryside Fund has had to use all its emergency funding and this is undoubtedly a reflection of just how difficult a time farmers are having. The worst impact is yet to come and will be felt from January/February onwards.

I wanted to bring this situation to churches' attention. As we all focus on the festivities of Christmas, please be aware and on the look out for families and individuals who are struggling, please support food banks and the various farming charities, and please pray for farmers everywhere. Be on the look out for the fact that you stop seeing someone around for a day or two. Notice when you visit someone whose house is exceptionally cold.  Once again, my thanks to Andy for much of this information.

Feeling Chilly?

Community Hubs in North Yorkshire

Andy Rylands, our rural officer, sent me this information: 

Rural Action Yorkshire has received funding from North Yorkshire County Council to undertake an project to support the development of community hubs

The funding received is to be used to provide preventative social care and early interventions through the establishment and support of 7 Community Hubs within the rural areas of North Yorkshire. The hubs will be developed within existing community buildings such as village halls, libraries and community centres, which currently act as a focal point for members of the local community and already have activities taking place.

The project aims to build on the existing services within the local area, as well as developing new services, which will offer information, resources and community development support to vulnerable individuals and those more isolated members of the community.

The project is keen to encourage new and innovative ideas and to support new services and activities identified by its users.  Examples of services that may be encouraged to develop through this project would be activities such as: community caf├ęs, allotments, drop-in centres, luncheon clubs, exercise classes, arts and crafts and other social activity groups.  It is also hoped that the hubs could provide focused support for specific groups, such as those with dementia, mobility problems or the bereaved.

As part of the project, RAY is in the process of setting up a small fund, to help hubs with some of the initial project set-up costs.  We recognize that in the early stages of a project, it is often difficult to access funds to pay for things such as promotional material, printing and meeting room hire - we hope that access to small grants will encourage and give confidence to groups to consider and explore new initiatives.

RAY has recently recruited a Community Hubs Development Officer, Tess McMahon, to work with groups and individuals and help develop and shape initiatives that meet their local needs. Tess will provide support to volunteers setting up projects within the identified community hubs as well as helping the project steering groups devise a longer term plans to safeguard their project’s sustainability and promote a social enterprising approach.

This will include assisting hub groups to make contact with local businesses, statutory organisations and both the private and public sector. To strengthen their focus on achieving sustainability, any groups who access funding from RAY will also be encouraged to repay a percentage of the initial costs. This will also have the benefit of putting money back into the pot for other groups to access in the future and extend the benefits derived.

Tess is currently in the process of making contact with community groups in North Yorkshire to identify which ones may be interested in the project and would like to establish a hub within their building. If your village hall, library, community centre or other community-based venue is interested in being part of this project, please contact Tess for more information.

You can contact
Tess McMahon Community Hubs Development Officer 07540 691029 Email: Tess McMahon
This project runs from 1 May 2012 – 30 April 2014

Christmas Lunch in Richmond

Each Christmas a group of local individuals and charities pool their time, resources and energy to provide lunch on Christmas Day for people who are Homeless, Lonely, or Just By Themselves.
Provided will be a full Christmas 3 course meal inculding Turkey, Christmas Pudding, pigs in blankets, candles, Christmas crackers, gifts and decorations etc.
People may just wish to walk in, but we will also use cars and minibuses to transport people to the venue.
In past years it has been a wonderful event with a lovely family atmosphere.
Would you like to be a Guest or a Helper or if you know someone who would please contact either Keith Hall - 850961, Stuart Parsons - 823456 or Linda Curran - 824626.
Supported by Kings Church Richmondshire, Richmond Town Council and Carricks

Thanks to Gillian Lunn for alerting me to this.