Meet the charity supporting Welsh farmers in an industry most at risk of suicide

  • ITV Wales Journalist Gwennan Campbell meets with the hard-working people who make up 'Tir Dewi'.

For many farmers, working in the Welsh countryside is the best job in the world. But for some, farming can be a very isolating and lonely occupation.

As part of 'Welsh Charities Week', we've been speaking to 'Tir Dewi', a charity supporting farmers and their families during difficult times.

Wyn Thomas has been working as an engagement officer for Tir Dewi for over a year and knows first-hand how hard life can be working on a farm.

"It can be incredibly lonely", he said.

"Farmers spend a lot of time on their own. It can be a very lonely job, and add to that the extra pressures that are constantly facing farmers, it can be a very, very difficult job.

"Farmers come to us with a huge variety of issues - loneliness, family issues, financial issues, worries about changing regulations.

"During this next year or two we're going to have big changes in the way slurry is managed, and that's already causing worries on farms."

Tir Dewi says they want farmers to call them at any time, so they can provide support.

Tir Dewi supports families experiencing the hardships of farming and helps them recognise when they need support.

Since the charity was established back in 2015, it has supported over 300 farmers in west Wales. But due to greater demand for its services, the charity has now expanded its support to include Powys and north Wales.

"We did a survey a couple of years ago and found that farmers need support and need help.

"It's very worrying that 72% of farmers answered our survey saying that they wouldn't ask for help, that they would find it very difficult to ask for help.

"So a very, very important part of our job is to make sure farmers are aware that it's ok, it's alright to ask for support."

Catrin has been volunteering with the charity for two years. As part of her role, she supports farmers by speaking through their problems over the phone, helping with paperwork, and by visiting them at home.

"There's been a massive increase in calls, in particular over the covid time. Because of the isolation and the fact that farmers have got nobody to share their problems with, so they feel like that they're the only ones having the problems, whereas previously markets and having people call on the farm, it was sort of a buffer. "

Agriculture is one of the industries with the highest suicide rates in the Wales. Credit: ITV Wales

Catrin has seen first-hand the effect the charity's support can have on farmers.

She said: "I can't describe to you the feeling of knowing that somebody that's not readily sharing their emotions, that in their eyes I see the thanks and in holding my hand I see the gratitude.

"I can't tell you how wonderful it feels to do that little bit."

Agriculture is one of the industries with the highest suicide rate in the country, but Wyn is hoping that Tir Dewi can help change this.

He said: " Call us, speak to us, anytime. We are there, and we're here listen.

"It's so, so important to share the worries, to share the problems because a lot of farmers, and I'd go as far as to say that most farmers are facing the same issues as you are. So just talk to us."

If you need support, you can contact Tir Dewi's free helpline on 0800 121 47 22 between 7am and 10pm.


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