Scotland’s livestock auctioneers will be hitting the phones on Thursday 18th June as part of a national campaign to tackle loneliness and mental ill-health among farmers during lockdown.
With the stress of lambing and calving over, but no auction marts, agricultural shows, or normal summer events to reconnect with people at and let off steam, farming organisations are concerned many farmers will be struggling.
To tackle this, a #KeepTalking campaign has been launched by The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RSABI) with support from the Institute of Auctioneers and Appraisers in Scotland (IAAS) and other farming organisations.
Auctioneers – who are key figures in farming communities and known for their ability to talk – have been recruited from around Scotland as ambassadors for the campaign. On 18th June the campaign will be asking people to join auctioneers and call someone they haven’t spoken to in six months for a national #KeepTalking day.
“As auctioneers, we spend a lot of time talking to farmers and often act as a confidant, sound board, business eye and friend,” said Scott Donaldson, president of IAAS.
“It’s something we take extremely seriously because know that for farmers that chat in the yard or kitchen could be the only one they have that day, week, or even month,” said Mr Donaldson.
“Marts themselves also play a critical role in enabling farmers to connect, share successes and disasters, or simply unwind with a bacon butty and chat about the rugby. Right now, however, the pandemic has halted those face-to-face interactions, so we encourage everyone to pick up the phone to a neighbour, friend, or acquaintance – for your own health and there’s too,” said Mr Donaldson.
“Let them know you’re there if they need. And if you’re struggling, let people know – there is no shame in it and we all need to get better at sharing how we’re feeling. If talking to your peers is too much, ring your auctioneer who can point you to support services, or ring RSABI directly. Our auctioneers are always at the end of a phone if you need them and will be increasing the number of calls they make at this difficult time.”
Calls to RSABI for help almost doubled last month, and the number of people the charity is ringing regularly to break loneliness has gone up 200%.
The campaign runs until 21st June – the final day of what would have been the Royal Highland Show.
RSABI has a helpline – 0300 111 4166 – which is available seven days a week, 365 days a year.
People can also get involved with the campaign by following the #KeepTalking hashtag on social media.