Gearing up for

21 September 2001

Gearing up for

a hard winter

CALLS from farmers to emergency help networks are set to rise, according to Alun Evans, chairman of the Rural Stress Information Network.

"We must anticipate a hard winter ahead as the financial realities bite harder and the options for farmers are limited," he told delegates at the charitys annual meeting on Monday.

The warning comes at a time when calls to the Network have fallen, after increasing sevenfold during the first three months of foot-and-mouth.

The RSIN has beefed up its team of regional officers, contributing to the doubling of staff to 14. It is running a publicity campaign this autumn and plans to target the HSE, Health Authorities and NHS Direct when distributing its Help at Hand video. Laminated Farming Help posters are also being sent out, with a mail-out to village post offices to begin shortly.

According to RSIN director Caroline Davies it has been a "rollercoaster" year with calls from those in "deep distress" numbering almost 500 in the first five months of the epidemic.

"We will continue to work to become the first point of contact for the rural stress network and offer support to those in distress, signposting them to the help available," she said. "Regionally, we will be proactive in helping local initiatives and respond to their needs.

"Many peoples lives have been devastated by the foot-and-mouth crisis and its far-reaching affects on those in the rural community will continue over the weeks and months ahead." TR

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