Confidential Helpline: 07710 088 972

The Derbyshire Rural Chaplaincy help farming families through difficult situations such as animal disease, family problems, mental ill-health and the demands of farming processes. We assist in various ways from a one-off phone call to on-going pastoral care. Sometimes the Chaplains are able to direct people to other organisations that may be able to offer funding or more practical support. Support is also available to the wider rural community who often have connections to farming and/or food production.

Telephone support is available during Covid-19. Farm visits will be available as and when government regulations allow.

Who we are

Alan Griggs is our Lead Chaplain, an ordained minister in the Church of England. Revd. Professor Stella Mills is an Associate Chaplain, a volunteer who works closely with Alan.

We also have a volunteer Chaplain to Young Farmers, Emily Brailsford who is available to support any young person in the agricultural community that needs a sympathetic ear and some practical support.  To find out more about her work, please go to the Chaplain for Young Farmers page.

The project is managed by RAD, Work Place Chaplaincy Derbyshire and the Derbyshire Rural Stress Partnership with funding from the Methodist Church.

Why we are needed

The work has largely been active in the more rural and isolated areas of the High Peak and Derbyshire Dales. However, thanks to funding from the Methodist Church the project is now available to the farming community throughout Derbyshire. 

Life as a farmer has become increasingly isolating. Not only are some of the farms themselves geographically isolated, but there are fewer people working on them with some farmers being the sole worker. In the north of the county livestock farming is the only option as the ground is not suitable for growing crops. It's a 24/7 way of life caring for the livestock, land, buildings and equipment to make sure everything is operating as it should and animal welfare is obviously high up the list of priorities. It takes only one thing to go wrong for potentially serious implications to take effect.

TB testing in cattle is an anxious time and very labour intensive. A negative result can have a devastating impact. Illness in the family can create significant problems. Financial difficulties can lead to stress and even the loss of the farm itself if not dealt with appropriately. 

Farmers don't tend to have professional networks, they are generally private people who get on with the job. 

What we do

We listen. Sometimes that's all we do, other times we can provide more practical support or referrals to other organisations such as RABI and FCN. What is important is that any member of the farming and wider rural community in Derbyshire can contact our team and get some support. Alan or Stella can speak to them on the phone, visit them at their farm/home or meet up with them for a chat at the market in Bakewell. After this initial contact a plan can be agreed as to what the next step is.

John is a tenant farmer in his early 80's and has recently lost his wife. The local GP surgery referred him to us to offer him some emotional and pastoral support. Upon visiting John at the farm, the Agricultural Chaplaincy discovered that not only is he bereaved, but his farm tenancy was also being terminated. Given his limited financial security John has very few options for housing. Therefore, the Agricultural Chaplaincy completed an application to the Addington Fund's Strategic Rural Housing Scheme, a fund which supports farmers leaving the farm through no fault of their own. The Royal Agricultural Benevolence Institution also assessed John's financial needs, helping to secure additional support he was entitled to. The Agricultural Chaplaincy regularly visit John to offer continue pastoral support following his bereavement as well as working closely with him to offer practical help to plan for the future.

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Volunteering Opportunities

The Chaplaincy is funded by the Methodist Church and from many other interested organisations, groups and individuals. As the work develops there is always a need for more people to assist in supporting the farming community in Derbyshire and we would love to hear from you if you would like to join the team. 

No specific agricultural experience is required, just some time, some skills (be they practical, professional or personal) and the willingness to help.

If you are interested in volunteering for the Rural Chaplaincy, please provide some details here.