With poor mental health being a top concern for the farming industry, members of the Somerset Federation of Young Farmers Clubs (YFC) have taken the matter into their own hands by launching an innovative project designed to get people talking.
Together with the help of mental health professional Becky Wright, from New Leaf Life Design, they recently created a Pop-up Public Living Room at Sedgemoor Auction Centre near Bridgwater.
Calling themselves the Farmerados, a space at what is the South West’s largest livestock market was transformed on Saturday, October 10, ready to welcome anyone and everyone for a catch-up and a chat.
The Farmerados are a group of volunteers based on the principles of the Camerados global movement, who believe that the best way through tough times is to look out for each other.
Having recently completed mental health first aid training with New Leaf Life Design, 15 Somerset young farmers became mental health first aiders, and decided they wanted to show support and do some good within their farming community.
Farming can be an isolating job, which is why it is also vital for farmers to focus on their own mental health and wellbeing. According to research carried out by the Farm Safety Foundation charity, 81% of farmers under the age of 40 believe mental health is the biggest hidden problem they face today.
Figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show that since 2010, at least 138 farmers in England and Wales have taken their own lives.
Becky Wright, from New Leaf Life Design, said a Farmerado is halfway between being a stranger and a friend on the farm. “We set up the first Farmerados Public Pop-up Living Room at Sedgemoor Auction Centre. The space is supportive, somewhere you can come alongside each other, no fixing, no agenda, relax, chat and look out for each other,” she added.
“When we go through hard times we often forget the two most essential things: friends and purpose. You get both when you look out for someone – a connection and a real sense of purpose, and you get away from your own problems for a bit too.”
The Pop-up Public Living Room is based on the following principles:
It’s okay to fail;
We don’t fix people, just be alongside;
We mix with people who don’t look like us;
Remember to have fun;
If we disagree, level with each other respectably;
If someone is struggling, try and ask them to help you.
On the final principle, Ms Wright added: “This is what we call the secret sauce of Farmerados. If someone is having a tough time they become devoured by their own problems. So watch what happens when after a bit of sympathy you then ask them to look out for you, to do you a favour or give you advice.
“They come out of their own problems, they feel trusted, talented and driven with a new purpose. They have something to offer. This way of working – not a handout but mutual help instead.”
The Pop-up Public Living Room came in a box, provided by the Camerados, and passers-by were welcomed to just have a chat and a slice of one of the fabulous cakes on offer.
Rebecca Horsington, the county organiser of Somerset Young Farmers, said: “We had a brilliant start to the Farmerados project. Thanks to all of the young farmer volunteers who helped and especially Becky Wright, for the inspiration. Every conversation we had was worthwhile and if we can make even a small difference it makes the whole thing worth it.”
For more information about the Farmerados project and mental health training, contact Becky Wright at New Leaf Life Design by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or visiting the website www.newleaf.uk.com