The rural scene is an ever changing one but there are currently three on-going concerns which dominate.
Firstly, the great uncertainty that Brexit brings the farming community: the financial implications could be catastrophic to many farmers, but no one as yet can give any assurances as to what the future will bring. The whole rural economy is affected by this uncertainty as so many businesses depend upon agriculture for their survival.
Secondly, the need to improve mental health awareness within the farming community and to foster an environment of talking about and sharing problems. This has gratefully been the subject of much focus this year but there is a way to go to impact a culture where a farmer works alone around the clock, 365 days a year, whilst often harbouring worries and problems – TB restrictions, volatile dairy prices, the uncertain economic future, how to make ends meet, to name a few.
The third on-going concern is the loneliness that comes with this way of life. Farming may start off as an idyllic lifestyle until unforeseen circumstances occur. All is well until maybe health problems strike a family member and with the doctor’s surgery miles away, the hospital even further and with public transport only via Bwc-a-bus… reality suddenly hits home.
Part of my work this year therefore has been to encourage people to talk and to raise the profile of Tir Dewi – of what it can do and offer – if given the opportunity to do so.
Local rural churches can also play their part; by being good neighbours, sharing Christ’s love, by welcoming newcomers and introducing them to the availability of different services. Together as Christians we can share love and support with all who live and work in our changing rural areas; we can walk alongside those in need, financially or otherwise, workingwith various organisations who work tirelessly to provide a life line for our rural people.
Revd Canon Eileen Davies, Adviser on Rural Matters