Help at hand for the farming community

The volatility of agriculture is an all too familiar part of life to those in the farming community.

Unremitting issues faced by the sector, which include low commodity prices and poor weather, can impact not only upon material circumstances but because of the unique way of life for farmers, also on their personal wellbeing.

Many in the farming community struggle in silence from difficulties which are out of their control and although we in Bank of Scotland recognise the effects of these challenges and the uncertainties faced by farmers, they often shy away from putting their hand up for help and support – even when it’s most needed.

RSABI (formerly known as the Royal Scottish Benevolent Institution)

In addition to the specialist support available from a Bank of Scotland Agriculture Relationship Manager, assistance is available from RSABI, the unique Charity supporting people in Scottish agriculture. Founded in 1897, RSABI provides financial and welfare support for people of all ages involved in farming, crofting and growing in absolute confidence.

What type of support can RSABI provide?

RSABI offers financial and non-financial support and assistance. RSABI’s helpline operates 7 days a week from 7am to 11pm, with trained staff handling a wide range of enquiries and concerns from the wider agricultural community.

 RSABI helpline chart

Examples of support

  • Helping with applications for state benefits and tax credits
  • Arranging free debt advice
  • Organising business appraisals
  • Buying disability equipment
  • Covering travel costs if someone is in hospital
  • Paying domestic utility bills
  • Emergency grants in times of extreme need, for example, during floods
  • Providing shopping vouchers
  • Paying for essential household appliances and furniture
  • Providing annual grants to those that can no longer worker due to retirement or illness
  • Training grants
  • Heating grants

How does RSABI provide this support?

RSABI has experienced welfare case officers and volunteers who can visit people in their own home. They take time to listen and provide tailor made assistance. In addition, beneficiaries can contact the Charity’s office at the Rural Centre, Ingliston at any time to discuss problems or arrange extra visits.

RSABI cannot help with the payment of business bills or bankruptcy costs.

What did the financial year 2016/17 look like?

The following numbers show how critical RSABI has been in supporting the agricultural community:

850 individuals throughout Scotland were provided with assistance

80 people were helped to claim an additional £137,000 of state benefits (during the period of recording from September to March)

£556,000 of direct financial support was provided by RSABI overall

How does RSABI fund the help they provide?

Voluntary income is the chief source of RSABI funding coming from fundraising events, donations (including Supporter Scheme membership donations from individuals, businesses and corporate organisations), grants from charitable trusts as well as legacy gifts. RSABI investment dividends represent a key income stream; these underpin the charity’s running costs, including its vital welfare work. RSABI is proud of the fact that around 85 % of the money spent every year goes on charitable activities. Approximately half of our total expenditure is paid out directly to beneficiaries.

Bringing support to life

The following real life stories, with names changed for reasons of confidentiality, show how valuable the support provided by RSABI can be:

Michelle is a widow and has worked in agriculture since she was 16 years old. She is now in her early forties. When Michelle contacted RSABI she had no income. A case officer visited as a matter of urgency. Michelle has devoted all her working life to agriculture and is now experiencing serious ill health. The case officer established her entitlement to benefits by contacting the local welfare rights team and called the DWP to apply for sickness benefit and organised a home visit to complete an application for disability benefits. The case officer also applied for housing benefit and council tax reduction so that Michelle’s rent did not fall into arrears. RSABI organised a payment to her bank account to manage food and essential costs until benefits were paid. Michelle now receives £244 per week and is over the moon with the support that RSABI has provided.

Adam was asked to contact RSABI by his employer as they were aware he was suffering from stress. He is in his forties and lives with his wife and young daughter having been employed full-time in farming all his career. Adam had more money going out than coming in to the household, causing significant pressure on both himself and his family. He had resorted to using pay day loans which were exacerbating the problem. Adam emailed RSABI and a case officer visited. The case officer listened to the issues and they looked at the family finances together, discussing the options available for him to pursue. Benefit entitlement was checked and Adam was assisted to make an appointment that day with CAB to help consider options for rescheduling the debt. To alleviate the immediate pressure RSABI issued supermarket vouchers to allow the family to manage their essential needs without resorting to high cost pay day loans.

Katherine, the widow of a well-respected Scottish farmer, approached RSABI in desperation following her husband’s passing when her modest savings ran out meaning she was struggling to keep warm and to run a car. RSABI was able to make an immediate delivery of heating oil and has since taken Katherine on as an annual beneficiary – she has also been referred to another charity which is also providing a grant.

Seeking help

RSABI’s message is simple. If you or someone you know works or has worked in agriculture and is in need of help (including their dependants) call the free phone Helpline on 0300 111 4166. All calls are handled with discretion.

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