Member Spotlight April 2022: RABI

We spoke to ACO member charity RABI about how they have been assisting the farming community.

Tell us a bit about your charity’s history

We were founded 160 years ago by John Mechi, who developed a keen love of farming and constructed a model farm at Tiptree Heath in Essex.

The charity’s initial purpose was simple; ‘To secure a home for, or pension to, the bona fide farmer or widow of a farmer and to maintain and educate the orphan children of farmers’.

Since then, the ‘Agricultural Benevolent Institution’ has evolved considerably with royal connections running deep to give the charity its royal prefix. Queen Victoria became the charity’s first patron and succeeding monarchs followed suit, including George V, who granted a Royal Charter in 1935 to mark the 75th anniversary.

Who do you support and what support do you offer?

We are a national charity that provides support to the farming community across England and Wales. We offer guidance, financial support, and practical care to farming people of all ages and generations. Support is tailored to the individual and can be accessed via our 24/7 helpline (0800 188 4444) or via referral.

What makes you unique?

Our history and the tailored, professional support we offer to the farming community.

Can you give an example of someone you have helped?

Our support is tailored to the individual, so it can look very different depending on need. We have 4 objectives in providing support: Help at a critical moment; Mental wellbeing; Support living independently and Training and up-skilling.

This can be anything from a referral to our mental health counselling to help with living expenses due to unexpected events. Our fantastic regional team work directly with the farming community to provide individual person-centred support.

We were very fortunate to be able to support the farming community with crisis grants after the recent storms this February. While farming people are accustomed to dealing with the weather, having three named storms in a week was unprecedented. We know that our support will have provided much needed relief to those impacted by the storms.

How has your charity had to adapt in light of the recent pandemic?

Like many organisations, the pandemic has led us to adopt new technologies and adapt the way we engage with our beneficiaries and our people.

What is your charity working on now?

In October 2021, we launched the findings from the Big Farming Survey, which had over 15,000 respondents from the farming community. It showed hope and optimism for the sector, but also significant challenges – particularly highlighting poor mental health in the industry.

In response to this RABI have launched confidential face to face counselling to the farming community using BACP accredited counsellors. It provides access to a counsellor within 24hrs without the need for a clinical referral. This is a free service available to all the farming community.

We will continue to evolve our services in response to the needs of our farming community.

What issues are most of concern to you at the moment?

Ensuring we reach everyone who needs our support. Farming is facing once in a generation policy changes, alongside significant environmental and input impacts. Farming people are resilient, but the industry is facing increasing challenges. RABI wants to be there to support.

Do you have any suggestions for ACO?

I think the opportunity to network and share ideas with other organisations is invaluable. It is a wonderful opportunity for innovation and creativity. We are delighted to be a part of the ACO network.


To find out more about RABI, please contact Caron Whaley (Director of Services)