Chaplain appointed to Cockermouth livestock auction to get farmers to discuss mental health

ITV News Border visits the Cockermouth livestock auction to hear about the new mental health initiative.

A chaplain has been appointed to Cockermouth auction mart to get farmers to speak about their mental health.

Jim Marshall, a retired teacher and vicar, will go to the auction on sale days to speak to farmers about whatever is on their mind.

Friday 13 May was his first day, he said: "I'm certainly not going to press myself into making their lives a misery by being pestered every time I see them.

"But I think if they have something to ask or something to chat about or if they have something to tell me, personal, family or however it goes I think that would be the beginning of our conversation."

Check-ups are also available to the farmers for their physical health as well as having someone to turn to for their mental health.

Farmer Rachael Millard said: "It's very needed and is most welcomed to a lot of people and I think the auction, like I said, is the only place in recent years since Covid, it's been the only place for sort of a social event or social gathering because there hasn't been the local shows that happen throughout the year, all those usual social gatherings have just not happened in recent years."

Suicide rates among those in the agricultural industry remain high, with more than 100 taking their own life in the UK each year according to recent figures, and rising costs of fuel, feed and fertiliser can put even more pressure on farmers.

Farmer Kevin Holliday said: "When I was a young lad I could spring out of bed and you slept on a problem.

"When you get older, the problem keeps you awake and when you're looking at 4 o'clock in the morning waiting for the sun to come out and you can hear the rain coming down and you can't see out and you feel claustrophobic because the fog is down.

"You know you've got 10,000 acres to cover and the first field you go into, there's a ewe that's lost one lamb and the other one you've got to get in your jacket."