7 March 1997

Network offers help &support

HELP is available for anyone who is anxious or depressed over the selective cull.

Nick Read, director of the rural stress information network, believes a substantial degree of anxiety is building up amongst farmers who face losing cows from their herds.

Initially, when the beef crisis broke, there was a feeling of solidarity he says. Farmers knew the difficulties they faced were shared equally by their counterparts around the country.

But the selective cull was now targeting individual herds, and farmers were feeling increasingly isolated as animals on their farms were identified as cohorts.

"If farmers want to talk to someone, we would encourage them to use organisations they feel most comfortable with," he said.

That could be the network itself or the NFU, the church, or the Samaritans, he added. And Rev Read also urged anyone who was worried about someone else to phone the network, or the Samaritans, to seek advice.

Anyone who feels they want to talk about the cull, or anything else that is worrying them, can call the networks helpline on 01203-412916. The Samaritans are on 0345-909090.

The information network was launched as a charity last Dec to co-ordinate all the work done around the country on rural stress. It aims to encourage the development of practical solutions to help people living in rural areas who feel distressed or suicidal. Funding is being provided by the EU commission, the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the Arthur Rank Centre, and the NFU.