Call for agric chaplains


undefinedThe Agricultural Chaplaincy set up by Churches Together in Cheshire in 2000 is doing much good work among local farming communities. Our diocese and other denominations support the work of the chaplaincy. Farmers, farm workers and their families have faced hardships and great pressure over the past 15 years. The chaplaincy service is well-used but more chaplains are now needed.

Since the start of this millennium farming communities have faced Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), swine fever, poultry problems and Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD). Times have been hard. Many farmers and agricultural workers have been under great pressure as well as struggling to cope with isolation.

Keith Ineson (pictured above), Team Leader of the Agricultural Chaplaincy, said: “Depression is an industrial disease in the farming community – with farming at the very top of the suicide table for occupations. Farmers are very reluctant to go to the doctors – they don’t suffer with depression, they just ‘feel a bit down’. That’s what we hear. But the Oxford Centre for Suicide Studies places the average cost of a suicide at £1,450,000."

The chaplaincy has grown in recent years, respsonding to need in the rural communities. It now has four paid staff and a team of part-time, unpaid staff.

In total there are 14 chaplains who offer a full raft of practical and emotional support. Each member of the team has special skills and qualities. There is a good balance between male and female, from different church backgrounds and they are spread around the county. Also, there is some specialist work done with gay farmers. All the work is carried out in strict confidence.

The chaplaincy works with about 200 farmers a year. The total cost is approximately £75,000 and for that our funders get about 6,000 hours of work a year.

One farmer wrote to Farmers Weekly about the help he had received: “One night when I was so low that I could have ended it all I picked up the phone. From that moment on things began to change. He came to see me the next day and called in regularly over the next couple of years. He was at the end of the phone 24-hours-a-day if required.”

The chaplaincy provides emotional and practical support for the whole of the farming family.

Team Leader Keith Ineson added: “The chaplaincy has been in place for 15 years and in all this time no farmer we have worked with has harmed themselves. As a result of demand on our services we urgently require assistant chaplains to join our team of 14 members. A variety of skills are sought so we can continue to provide the existing services and move into fresh areas.

“Applicants will need to be able to give 4 hours minimum a week. They will have sympathy with farming and its related issues. They can be either lay or ordained."

For more information please apply in writing, giving a brief description of yourself and what skills you feel you could bring to the team. The chaplaincy would welcome letters expressing interest from now onwards. Training can be organised for the new chaplains. The post are unpaid but travel and other expenses are reimbursed.
Interviews will be held in April at the latest.

Write with expressions of interest to: Keith Ineson, Worsley House, Minshull Vernon, Cheshire CW10 0LT.