agriculture chaplainA chaplaincy service which aids Cheshire farmers experiencing depression and other mental health issues has received a £5,000 grant from Cheshire Community Foundation.

The grant was awarded to the Agricultural Chaplaincy which supports isolated and vulnerable members of the farming community in rural areas.

Agricultural Chaplaincy Lead Keith Ineson said: "Farming is top of the at-risk occupations for suicides, with gay farmers under even greater threat.

"One in four gay men will attempt suicide at some time in their lives so if you add in the farming factor, the risk is even worse. We also run a specialist helpline for gay farmers.

"We're grateful for the assistance from Cheshire Community Foundation because its grant will help keep us going. We provide emotional and practical support for the farming community who've historically faced problems with isolation and finances.

"Some farmers have never really recovered from the Foot and Mouth disease of 2001, while recently there's been a lot of publicity around the price of milk which has affected the large number of dairy farmers in Cheshire. In addition, it's a dangerous occupation because of the machinery involved."

Cheshire's Agricultural Chaplaincy is the largest such team in the country with a 14-strong staff, 11 of whom are volunteers. It was set up by Churches Together in Cheshire 15 years ago.

Cheshire Community Foundation's chief executive Helen O'Donnell said: "We're a charitable business working to change the face of philanthropy across Cheshire and Warrington. We're doing this by helping philanthropists invest strategically in the community where they live so their social investment has the most impact in areas of greatest need.

"By making giving easy, enjoyable and engaging we're inspiring these local people and businesses to engage with voluntary organisations which are addressing local need and solving local problems."

The Foundation has an endowment of £4m allowing it to award grants in perpetuity on a quarterly business to help not-for-profit organisations such as charities, community groups and social enterprises.

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