Monthly meet-ups for farmers planned to tackle rural isolation
A new monthly meet-up for farmers will be launched next year in a bid to tackle rural isolation.
The new project for the Bridgnorth area has been inspired by the Much Wenlock Butty Van, which was praised by the Archbishop of Canterbury on his visit to Shropshire this week.
The Butty Van sees a pop-up lunchtime barbecue hosted at a different farm each month, with a bacon bap, a hot drink and a good old chinwag on the menu.
It was started two years ago by local farmers and the Borderlands Rural Chaplaincy, an outreach support service run by Hereford Diocese.
Samantha Campbell, who was involved in setting up the Much Wenlock Butty Van, said: "The idea is that farmers come as they are, in their wellies and boiler suits, and it gives them the opportunity to meet with other farmers and get that bit of socialisation.
"That used to be provided by the markets, and in years gone by farmers had workers and their wives didn't work, but now it can be quite lonely.
"I hope that the Butty Van is able to stop problems before they start."
During his visit to Derek and Lynette Price's Oakwood Farm, which was hosting this month's event, the archbishop said the innovative project was "indispensable".
Also at the Butty Van were Reverend Sarah Cawdell and Jayne Madeley, from Acton Round Church in the Bridgnorth and Morville parishes group, who are hoping to launch their own project in the new year.
Rev Cawdell said: "We had two suicides in our parish last year which is two too many.
"We thought this was just sort of thing we need to do to get people together and get people talking and supporting each other.
"Farmers can get very isolated, but we all need human contact to remain human."
Mrs Madeley said she knew of five local people who had taken their own lives.
"I came to one of these and thought we should have something like it," she said.
"But we are very much at the beginning."
The next steps in taking the project forward will be discussed at a meeting next month.