Taking health service to local growers

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That men are often unwilling to visit the doctor if they have a health worry is not news.

When it comes to farmers and growers the situation is far worse because they feel they can’t afford to lose time to medical visits.

Tony Worth cuts the ribbon with (from left) Heather Dawes, Alison Twiddy and Chris Longstaff. SG150513-224NG

Tony Worth cuts the ribbon with (from left) Heather Dawes, Alison Twiddy and Chris Longstaff. SG150513-224NG

Add to that the problems associated with their work – business and family pressures, debt, succession and legal issues – and it’s possible that they are not only overlooking health checks, but living with serious mental health problems.

“The mental health side is a bit of a concern,” said nurse Heather Dawes. “There is a much higher suicide rate in the farming community than in the general community.”

Lincolnshire charity LRSN (Lincolnshire Rural Support Network) is now doing something about that by launching a drop-in service at Spalding Auction.

Heather, employed by LRSN, explains that the service is for everyone involved in the farming industry, not just farmers.

Every fortnight, she will be offering blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol testing in a little room in a corner of the auction.

She said: “By offering the service in their place of work they are more likely to access it and the biggest thing is they don’t have to have a change of clothes and they can come when they have finished their business.”

While Heather is chatting to growers she admits she will also be looking out for signs that they may need emotional or practical support.

In those cases, LRSN also offers other services, such as help with debt and other problems growers may be facing.

The charity has a helpline for these farmers and growers who are then appointed a case worker who not only discussses their situation but accompanies them to meetings to help sort out the situation.

At the launch of the service in Spalding, the charity’s vice-chairman David Creasey, who is also associate priest at Morton, described it as, “the Samaritans with knobs on”.

He explained: “Rather than just listen, we try to walk with the people who need our help.”

David was talking to people who had assembled for the launch, including the Lord Lietenant of Lincolnshire Tony Worth, who performed the official opening ceremony.

It was Spalding auctioneer Chris Longstaff, impressed with the service that has been running elsewhere, who suggested it would be a good idea to have the drop-in in the south of the county.