A new resource is available for farming’s “accidental counsellors” to help them better support those within the agricultural community and better look after their own well-being.
The University of Exeter and Farming Health Hub have created a new online resource hub – www.accidentalcounsellors.co.uk – which aims to help people who work with farmers, and who often find themselves lending a listening ear to those in distress – feel more confident about promoting the well-being of clients who are facing challenging times.
People who work in the agricultural community such as accountants, land agents, vets or feed suppliers often find themselves providing more than just professional expertise to farmers. Farmers also support other farmers within their community. As “accidental counsellors”, they play a key role in linking remote farming communities with health and well-being support services. This can have a personal impact in and outside of work for them, and it is sometimes unclear how best to help those in distress or how to access further assistance. The website provides a range of guidance, contacts and information about relevant training to help people signpost farmers to the most appropriate source of support.
The resource hub has been created by experts at the University of Exeter and the Farming Health Hub following research that highlighted the important role that ‘accidental counsellors’ play in supporting farmer well-being, and the difficulties that they experience whilst providing this help.
Nikki Kelly of the Faming Health Hub (now part of the ImagineIf Partnership) said: “Rural farmers are grappling with a multitude of challenges that negatively affect their health and well-being. At the same time, they struggle to access and engage with health and well-being services and support. But professionals who closely support farmers with various aspects of their farm business, such as accountants, vets and bank managers, can play a key role in signposting to support with health-related issues. These professionals are trusted by farmers, because they have built up rapport with them through long years of continuous relationship.”
Dr Rebecca Wheeler, from the University of Exeter’s Centre for Rural Policy Research, said: “We know that there are many such professionals who offer support in different ways to members of the farming community through their contact with agricultural workers as part of their jobs. We also know this can be very difficult at times, as farmers face huge financial and personal challenges whilst working to feed the nation, and it’s not always easy to know how to respond or where to turn for help.”
A new ‘Accidental Counsellors in Farming’ LinkedIn group has also been created in conjunction with the website in order to provide a peer support space for these accidental counsellors and prevent them from feeling alone. It offers a dedicated space where they can connect with each other, share concerns, queries and experiences with other people in similar situations.
Dr Lucy Szaboova, from the University’s Environment and Sustainability Institute, said: “It’s extremely important that “accidental counsellors” look after their own wellbeing too. Reflecting on their experiences in a trusted space can help to lighten the load and we hope as many people as possible will join the new LinkedIn community, as well as access the resources on the new website.”
The LinkedIn group will be private, and members will not reference specific farms or farmers to maintain privacy and confidentiality. Posts will be moderated by staff from the University of Exeter and Farming Health Hub. To join the group, visit: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/12939257/
If you have any questions about the LinkedInGroup or Resource Hub, please get in touch via: email@example.com.