Booths are celebrating National Countryside Week (20th to 26th July) as part of their continued support for The Prince’s Countryside Fund.
Over the past 7 years, Booths have contributed more than £150,000 to help fund local initiatives working to support the countryside. This donation has helped to fund:
- 3 Farmer Networks: providing a lifeline to isolated farmers in need of support
- Provided 160 training opportunities for young people: boosting rural skills
- Funded 8 community transport schemes: connecting isolated communities
- Funded 6 community shops & post offices
- And supported over 80 farm businesses through the Farm Resilience Programme: creating a more viable future for family farms
Nigel Murray, COO of Booths said, “During lockdown, many of us have formed a deeper appreciation of the countryside and the role it plays in our lives. Food and farming have been at the heart of Booths for well over 170 years and the array of farmers and growers form the very backbone of our business.”
“Covid-19 has highlighted the importance of food security, availability and traceability.
There is a real need for education and insight into how products are grown, sown and produced so that we respect not only the food we eat, but place significantly greater value on the people who provide it for us .”
Recognising that farmers need support now more than ever, The Prince’s Countryside Fund is launching a National Directory of Farm and Rural Support Groups. The directory lists 69 regional, national, and membership organisations who can provide support, advice, and guidance to farming and rural communities. The desperately sad fact is that each week a farmer takes their own life, as such making support groups easy to find and access is absolutely vital.
Keith Halstead, Executive Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund said: “We are proud to be able to support UK farm support groups, both financially through our grant programme, and by highlighting the importance of their work in our National Directory of Farm and Rural Support Groups, our aim for the future is to make these networks more sustainable and help them to grow, ensuring that all UK farmers can receive local help when they need it.”
In the words of HRH, The Prince of Wales who founded this vital rural charity 10 years ago, “The countryside’s contribution to the national good has to be cherished and sustained. Without it, we will all be very much the poorer.”
Susan’s Farm is a care farm, near Carlisle, that uses their organic sheep & beef farm as a setting for therapeutic learning. Susan’s Farm were delighted to receive a grant for £2400 to support our care and contact program during Covid – 19.
Pete is a volunteer at Susan’s Farm giving insight into how the farm is helping those struggling with mental health to find refuge on life on the farm.
“It has been desperately sad during lockdown, not to be able to welcome those with long-term mental health issues, vulnerable teenagers and school kids to Susan’s Farm. What has been wonderful is that the grant from the Prince’s Countryside Fund has enabled us to maintain contact with the most vulnerable of our beneficiaries including those who were offenders, and teenagers who have been having no education during lockdown.”
“We have been ringing our beneficiaries 3 to 5 times a week and delivering hot nutritious three course meals to them twice a week.”
As lockdown lifted Susan’s Farm have started a phase return of beneficiaries.
“One young boy has come for a drive-through/self-guided visit where he comes with his mother to the farm and is able to go and gather the eggs and let the hens out. His mother says this makes an enormous difference to him, he is a child with severe learning difficulties and behavioural challenges. It has been a really tough time for parents of such children as well.”
The coming weeks will see a phased return of adults with long term mental health illnesses and we are planning a summer programme for vulnerable families.
“Since the outbreak of the coronavirus I have been unable to volunteer at Susan’s Farm as I would do normally. Instead, the farm has been very proactive in providing support to myself and other ways. I receive cooked food twice a week which is lovely and usually chat for a few minutes when it is dropped off.”
I also receive regular phone calls several times a week which helps prevent loneliness. I live alone and have been unable to visit family for some time now, so communication from the farm helps make me feel part of a community and less isolated. This has helped me to cope with the coronavirus situation and made me feel part of a wider farming family.”
The Northern Fells Group
The Northern Fells Group is a community charity based in North Cumbria and serves 3,700 residents in an upland area of over 200 square miles. This part of Cumbria is very isolated and lacking in services.
The Northern Fells Group launched its response to Covid-19 with a recruitment drive for local younger volunteers and an active invitation for the community to contact us for help and assistance. They recruited 147 new volunteers, adding to their 100 registered volunteers, many of them over 70 or in self isolation. The group have been inundated with requests for help from older vulnerable people.
“From the start of lockdown the Northern Fells Group have completed 1545 tasks and errands for people in need using our volunteers and have answered 488 telephone enquiries.”
The Northern Fells Group currently coordinate volunteering activities in the area ranging from picking up shopping, posting mail, collecting prescriptions, dog walking and delivering takeout meals. The group also coordinate a “Phone a Friend” telephone tree, ensuring that the most vulnerable community residents receive a phone call every 3 days. They issue information bulletins every 3 days to our users through our email network providing information about local services, benefits and Public Health updates as well as activities to stay healthy and be creative.
Leah Routledge, “We have been walking Anne’s dog, baking and delivering food to a lady in the community.”
If you would like to find out more about the Fund’s grant making activity, please visit www.princescountrysidefund.org.uk