Devon Churches Rural Forum

Seasonal Calendar - Rural Social Issues - under development

Mental Health

There are numerous days in the year set aside to think, reflect and act on various aspects of mental health and the website gives much information on these and links to additional resources. In summary, some of the awareness days/weeks include:

  • Time to Talk Day - 3rd February 2022
  • 7th to 13th February - Children's Mental Health Week
  • 28th February to 6th March - Eating Disorders Awareness Week
  • 3rd March 2022 - Universtiy Mental Health Day
  • 30th March - World Bipolar Day
  • April - Stress Awareness Month
  • May - UK Maternal Mental Health Month
  • 9th to 15th May - Mental Health Awarenss Week
  • 25th July - National Schizophenia Day
  • 10th September 2022 - World Suicide Prevention Day
  • 10th October 2022 - World Mental Health Day
  • 10th to 16th October - OCD Awareness Week
  • 2nd November - National Stress Awareness Day
As always with awareness days there are opportunities to join in with other events happening in your locality, perhaps with a church table, perhaps you may have a mental health first aider in your congregation, perhaps you may be able to advertise your coffee mornings or lunch clubs if you have them with a particular invitation to those who may be suffering lonliness or social isolation.
Looking at the list above "Time to Talk Day" would seem to offer possibilities for churches, especially those with pasoral care teams or those with people who are good at listening. An open coffee morning linked to Time to Talk day may reach extra people.
The Devon Churches Rural Forum has a section of information on Mental Health, including a comprehensive list of organisations who can provide healp for people with mental health concerns. You can access this here

 Mental Health in the Farming Community

Mental Health in our farming community, and related occupations, is of particular concern in Devon and as mentioned in the farming section of our calendar, there is a particular week to think and pray about this.Farming Health Awareness Week was 22nd to 25th February 2022 and 2023 dates to be confirmed when known.

If you know anyone who could do with some specialist support, the Farming Community Network can often help. Their website is below and our Devon Co-ordinator is Colin Smallacombe. Also, Andy Jerrard is employed as a lay worker (by the Methodist Church) carrying on a historic role which provides pastoral support to the rural community. Part of that includes being involved in multiple market chaplaincies as well as being the Plymouth and Exeter District Agricultural Chaplain. If you want to contact Andy then the mobile ‘phone number is 07801 755 732.

Ideas for church involvement: Advertise farming support charities on church noticeboards, develop awareness of farming health in pastoral care teams, publish an article in the parish mag, ask the FCN to give a talk, speak in a service or arrange some training for your church.

Websites for farming support are as follows:

Addington Fund

Forage Aid - Emergency animal feed and bedding

Church Action on Poverty Sunday - Last Sunday before Lent - 19th February 2023

From their website: Every year, churches across the UK mark Church Action on Poverty Sunday by reflecting on issues of poverty and injustice in their worship, and raising funds for Church Action on Poverty.

Perhaps invite a speaker from CAP that Sunday and find out how they are supporting people in your local area, or invite someone from another organisation to speak about rural poverty issues especially. Hold a collection for a local food bank or other charity tackling rural poverty ...

A link to the CAP website can be found here and resources will be avialble in due course

A link to the Rural Services Network rural poverty page is here - on this page information on a wide range of issues affecting rural poverty can be found

Fair Trade Fortnight - 20th February to 5th March 2023

You can find a link to the Fairtrade fortnight with lots of ideas for getting involved here

Homelessness Sunday - Sunday closest to October 10th

We may sometimes think of homelessness as an urban problem, with people sleeping rough on the streets. However, rural homelessness is also a concern - and perhaps even more hidden from general view.

The following links will give you some further information about rural homelessness.

There are many resources concerning homelessness in this link to The Methodist Church Homelessness Sunday material and this leaflet from the Church Homeless Trust has some interesting ideas for worship and imagining what it might be like to be homeless, as well as further information and prayers.

Homelessness Sunday can be used as a focus for awareness raising in your local community, for finding out more about the situation in your own locality, for exploring what your church in your speicifc context might be able to offer, and in praying for those who are homeless, in unsuitable or temporary or insecure accomodation and struggling with all the knock on effects this can bring.

District council housing offices are a good place to start finding out about the situation locally - and you will probably have local knowledge as well. Many chuches also support food banks both in local towns and also in rural areas with rural pantries and fridges in easily accessible locations.All these initiatives help to support those without permanent homes.

Children in Need - November
The BBC Children in Need annual appeal is now a traditional fixture in the UK. The link to their website can be found here where there are a whole range of ideas for joining in with activities.
As we have said with other national "days" church activities can join in with the publicity that is already generated. An opportunity to join your community taking part as a church, help your local school with their efforts, or put on a particular activity with children in church.
International Day for Persons with Disabilities - 3rd December
This is a United Nations Day and the relevant website for this day can be found here

You may want to move a day to remember and focus on people with disabilities to another time in the year but whenever you remember this day, it's a great opportunity to review your church's inclusion and accessibility for people with both hidden and unhidden disabilities. Perhaps invite people to come as to see how easy it is to get around - or ask someone if they can tell their story in a Sunday service? Apparently in the UAE persons with disabilities are called "persons with determination" - much to think about.

Fuel Poverty Awareness Day - 5th December

Fuel Poverty is a particularly relevant "awareness day" this year with so many people seriously worried about how they will keep warm this winter. Rural areas have particular problems with regard to heating as we well know, with many not on mains gas and needing to rely on already expensive oil.
This specific day is organised by a charity called National Energy Action and you can find their website here

Many organisations accross the country are offering "Warm Spaces" for people to come together for warmth this winter. Here is an article about Chulmleigh Town Council offering such a scheme

Maybe you already offer a coffee morning or lunch session which could be more widely advertised through Warm Spaces publicity? Maybe you could offer something new to help people keep warm.

A new campaign/support organisation called Warm Welcome launches 28th September 2022. You can find their website here

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