FARMING MATTERS: Helping out with Christmas food

One of the happy recipients of a Christmas hamper from R.A.B.I.
One of the happy recipients of a Christmas hamper from R.A.B.I.

Hello again, I am now back at my desk after enjoying a few weeks off over Christmas and New Year.

I hope you all had a peaceful, healthy and joyful festive season and were able to afford good food to share with family and friends.

Sadly that pleasure isn’t always available to all but farming charity R.A.B.I. (The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution) ensured Christmas was a tasty affair for hundreds of people.

The charity spent between £40 - £50k sending out more than 650 festive hampers to elderly, sick and disabled people who used to work in the agricultural sector.

Most of the hampers went to those in receipt of regular allowances from R.A.B.I., invariably people over the age of 65, on low incomes with limited savings.

Trish Pickford, R.A.B.I.’s head of welfare, said: “It’s a sad irony that a lot of retired farmers and farm workers, who have spent their whole lives producing food for others, now find it hard to put food on their own tables.

“We go to great lengths to recognise those we help as people, rather than statistics. That’s why we also send out things like birthday cards and flowers. It’s important to show someone who may feel isolated that you’re thinking of them. Christmas, for a lot of those we help, is the loneliest time of the year.”

R.A.B.I.’s Christmas hamper campaign is now in its 13th year. And in some parts of the country volunteers even deliver them personally to the door. Each hamper costs £50 while the price of a double hamper for a couple is £85.

Over the course of 2018 R.A.B.I. had a busy year, giving out grants of more than £1.7m to over 1,200 individuals and families. The charity has seen a big increase in the number of requests for help from working people, and also gives considerable sums to non-working people. This includes £101,300 towards care home top-up fees, £177,600 on disability equipment and £56,300 towards home help costs.

Ms Pickford said: “In today’s word there are so many challenges people must face in later life and health issues can be draining, both physically and mentally.

“We do not shy away from offering long term support to people, sometimes over several decades.”