On 17 and 18 January 2024, PAPYRUS joined hundreds of people working in the agricultural industry at the NEC in Birmingham for the annual LAMMA Show. LAMMA is the UK’s  premier  farm machinery show which connects farmers across a range of sectors with pioneering companies offering cutting-edge agricultural machinery, technology and equipment. 

Image of PAPYRUS Stall at the LAMMA Show 2024.As the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham geared up for the UK’s premier farm machinery show connecting farmers from across the UK, PAPYRUS also prepared to set up amidst the world of tractors and combine harvesters. This year, PAPYRUS was invited to hold a stall at the Health and Wellbeing Zone at the heart of the convention by the Farming Community Network (FCN). FCN, a voluntary organisation supporting farmers and families within the farming community on a range of issues, recognised the increase in calls received through their support mechanisms around suicide and suicide ideation among farming communities. With one in 10 farmers reporting they don’t take a day off, it felt important that we were present to show support for the community.

Over the two days, our team shared myths and facts about suicide within agricultural communities, with many attendees feeling unsurprised at the 2020 statistic showing that 133 people in the agricultural and associated trades took their own lives, averaging over two people a week (ONS). Many farmers who visited the stall shared stories of friends lost to suicide over the years, further emphasising the need for support.

During day two of the convention, PAPYRUS was asked to participate in a panel discussion with the headline question: “Is it time to change how we talk about mental health challenges in farming?” The panel included Olivia Midgely (Farmers Guardian), Charles Anyan (FCN, Farmer), Stuart Roberts (Farmer), and PAPYRUS Community Development Officer Hannah Garner who acted as a representative for the charity. The discussion explored how isolation affects the mental health of farmers across the UK and how policy updates and paperwork can lead to pressure on the community. Overall, the consensus was that more could be done to allow farmers to openly discuss their struggles and to highlight available help within the community from organisations such as FCN, Yellow Wellies, and PAPYRUS.

Last year, Lynda and Andy Eadon hosted a tractor relay entitled ‘Len’s Light’, in remembrance of their son. The relay travelled across the UK to spread awareness about the support and hope available for young people working in the agricultural industry, with their mission to convey that ‘no one in the rural community feels isolated or alone.’ Lynda and Andy did a tremendous job of raising awareness by distributing over 20,000 wallet-sized cards and spreading the message of hope.

The convention provided a valuable space to spread the message that no one has to suffer alone with thoughts of suicide. The general mood of the event was hopeful that the stigma around mental health within rural communities can change. It felt important for PAPYRUS to be there to sow the seeds of support for rural communities.

Spread the love