In 2001, High Peak and Dales Primary Care Trust conducted a health needs assessment of the Derbyshire agricultural community as part of the “Farm Out” health project. The project was set up jointly by the PCT and East Midlands Development Agency in response to the steady economic decline experienced by the farming community over the previous decade, contributing factors to which included BSE and FMD crises, unfavourable exchange rates and rising costs.
The assessment found that the agricultural community had a poor health profile, most notably with regard to mental health and musculoskeletal and occupational health problems. It revealed significant hidden deprivation. The report put forward 116 recommendations to address the issues identified. It was reviewed and updated by Dr Jane Bethea in 2011. The update can be accessed here.
A concurrent research project carried out by the Peak District Rural Deprivation Forum delivered its findings in the Hard Times Report.
In parallel with this research and the publication of the Farm Out report, a group of interested individuals with a common interest in preserving and celebrating the rural heritage of the Peak District had come together to consider ways of supporting the hill farming community. The group included members of local voluntary and charitable groups dedicated to oral history, reminiscence and community development (Rural Education and Arts Project – REAP, History Live, Borderland Voices) as well as hill farmers and professionals from the health and community support sectors. The group secured funding to run reminiscence activities in 2002 and following this attracted funding from DEFRA to convert a redundant farm building at Blackwell Hall Farm into a Centre dedicated to supporting the health and well being needs of the local hill farming community.
The FLC Steering Group established itself as a registered charity in 2004. The building was completed in 2005, and with funding secured for two members of staff, the Centre has gone from strength to strength, developing a range of projects and services to address health, social and economic deprivation within the Peak District hill farming community.
|Header photo courtesy of Sheila Hine|