10 May 2002

First step towards real help

CONTACTING RABI could be your first step towards obtaining cash and good advice from a variety of sources.

Staff are well placed to explain to farmers and their families which benefits they can claim and how to make these claims, says Graham Brazil, one of RABIs 10 regional welfare officers.

"Weve got a lot of information that people may not know about – youve just got to ask us."

The Working Families Tax Credit (WTFC), for example, could mean more than £80/ week to a farming family with three children, in addition to their earnings and child benefit.

RABI staff can also point people to other useful organisations, such as Age Concern, the Citizens Advice Bureau and the Rural Stress Inform-ation Network.

"Even if we cant help you, we can probably put you in touch with someone who can," says Exeter-based Graham. "Sometimes people dont know which way to turn, but they feel a wave of relief after speaking to us."

Such advice and help with money matters is, of course, in addition to the possibility of getting direct cash aid from RABI.

"Some farmers feel that because RABI is a charity they dont deserve this money. But they do. Over the years, theyve probably contributed to RABI anyway, whether its through the local YFC or through raffles at agricultural shows."

RABI money might help with the groceries, fuel, council tax or even essential car expenditure, says Graham. "Its all arranged in your home and all done in the strictest confidence."

Can you help?

RABI always needs new donors and asks farmers when theyre making a will to consider setting aside a small legacy to help support others in the industry who may be less fortunate than themselves. Straightforward donations are also a very important source of funding.

Heartfelt thanks

These are just three randomly selected from the thousands of letters and cards which have been sent to the RABI welfare department from all over the country.

"I have just not got enough words to properly express our gratitude for the cheque that you have sent us. After weeks and weeks of indescribable stress we had almost become frightened to open the morning post. I just could not believe my eyes when I first saw your cheque – that someone could be so kind. I will always remember how we felt on receiving your gift and I have promised myself that when times are better we will also contribute what we can to others who have similar problems. Thank you so very much."

"How I wept with relief and gratitude when I opened your letter… you have literally saved me from the most appalling financial worry I have ever had. Thank you seems so inadequate… Please thank everyone and tell them how desperately grateful I am."

"I cannot find the words to express just how much your letter and cheque meant to my father… I have spent the last three days at home, sorting through invoices, final demands and threats of proceedings. I had not until then appreciated the extreme desperation of the situation – without your letter I do not think my dad would have been able to continue… I know the overwhelming financial desperation is still very real and I will never forget your kindness and compassion. The lifeline you provide is so precious, thank you."

How to apply

If in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, please ring 01865-727888.

If in Scotland, please ring 0131-333 1023.

RABI background

RABI is a national charity, dedicated to supporting farming families who are suffering hardship. Founded in 1860, it covers England, Wales and Northern Ireland. RABI has helped over 8000 farming families since the foot-and-mouth epidemic began, as well as continuing to provide regular grants and assistance to an increasing number of elderly or disabled beneficiaries.

A green and pleasant land? The impression given by a glance at the British countryside – as demonstrated by this scene – can be one of tranquillity and prosperity. But the reality can be different, with many rural families facing big worries. RABI and FW want to help.