The work of RSABI

The Galloway News - - FARMING REVIEW -

Pamela Samson is a wel­fare of­fi­cer work­ing for RSABI (Royal Scot­tish Agri­cul­tural Benev­o­lent In­sti­tu­tion) across south west Scot­land.

Pamela is a farmer’s daugh­ter and has al­ways had a close con­nec­tion with the agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity. She was taken on by RSABI in 2001 to carry out the fol­low up work for the foot and mouth out­break, specif­i­cally in Dum­fries and Gal­loway.

Pamela has ex­cel­lent knowl­edge of the lo­cal area as well as good in­ter­per­sonal skills and un­der­stand­ing of the ben­e­fits sys­tem. She lives near Dum­fries with her hus­band, Jim, and two sons.

In her role as wel­fare of­fi­cer, Pamela vis­its ap­pli­cants in their home and helps to find so­lu­tions for a wide va­ri­ety of peo­ple and sit­u­a­tions.

Here she de­scribes a day in the life of a case of­fi­cer for our Farm­ing Review. My role as a RSABI case of­fi­cer is to the visit those who ap­ply to RSABI for help, in­clud­ing any­one who gets in touch via the RSABI helpline. We ap­pre­ci­ate it is dif­fi­cult to ask for help and we work with many of the lo­cal agen­cies and or­gan­i­sa­tions and en­cour­age them to make re­fer­rals to us.

Ev­ery morn­ing I check my mail to see if any­thing ur­gent has come in through the helpline. I cover the whole of south west Scot­land for RSABI which means up to a two-hour drive in any di­rec­tion from my home near Dum­fries.

First thing this morn­ing, I re­ceived a call from a ben­e­fi­ciary let­ting me know that they had been awarded at­ten­dance al­lowance – this is a ben­e­fit for older peo­ple who may need extra help to stay in­de­pen­dent at home, due to ill­ness or dis­abil­ity.

I had made a re­fer­ral for them to ap­ply for this ben­e­fit as their health had been de­te­ri­o­rat­ing and they were get­ting to a stage where they were un­able to man­age as they had done be­fore. They were so pleased as they were now over £4,300 better off per year and this money would help them get the as­sis­tance they needed.

It’s al­ways a won­der­ful feel­ing when you hear good news from beneficiaries.

Af­ter that, I headed off to my first ap­point­ment. The jour­ney took an hour and dur­ing that time, the of­fice left a mes­sage for me with de­tails of a farmer who was strug­gling to man­age since be­ing taken ill. He had been asked to call us by an­other agency which is of­ten the case.

I pulled over and called the farmer. We made an ap­point­ment for the next day as the sit­u­a­tion sounded dire and he was glad to know that some­one was go­ing to help. I of­ten have to resched­ule ap­point­ments to en­sure that I see those in the most dif­fi­cult cir­cum­stances as soon as pos­si­ble.

I saw my first ap­point­ment of the day – a long-term an­nual ben­e­fi­ciary. She was up­set as a fam­ily mem­ber had died re­cently and we talked about them and the im­pact of her loss. She was glad to have some­one to talk to and so I of­fered her a reg­u­lar call from our helpline, which she was pleased to ac­cept.

It is sad how lonely life can be so it’s good that RSABI can call to of­fer sup­port, mak­ing sure they know some­body cares and there’s al­ways some­one to talk to.

My next ap­point­ment was with a gen­tle­man who had been re­ferred to us by Shel­ter as he had been al­lo­cated a coun­cil house but had no cooker.

He had worked in agri­cul­ture for more than 20 years but was un­able to con­tinue to work af­ter suffering an ac­ci­dent. This led to him suffering from de­pres­sion as he strug­gled to cope fi­nan­cially, phys­i­cally and emo­tion­ally. There were no car­pets or cooker in the house so I com­pleted an application form and fi­nan­cial state­ment and then made a rec­om­men­da­tion to the grant au­tho­ri­sa­tion group that RSABI buy these items for him.

I also sug­gested that we con­sider help­ing with a small monthly pay­ment un­til he was well enough to re­turn to work. He was over­whelmed.

By the time I re­turned home, I had emails from the of­fice ask­ing me to or­gan­ise an ap­point­ment with some­one who had called the helpline be­cause they had been strug­gling with heat­ing costs, and an­other re­fer­ral from an agency ask­ing if we could help a re­cently wid­owed lady whose hus­band had been a farm worker. She was wor­ried about her hous­ing sit­u­a­tion, as the house had been tied with her hus­band’s job.

My job is chal­leng­ing and de­mand­ing at times but I feel very priv­i­leged to do what I do and I am de­lighted to know that RSABI can make a real dif­fer­ence to peo­ple’s lives.

RSABI pro­vides emo­tional, prac­ti­cal and fi­nan­cial sup­port to in­di­vid­u­als of all ages and their fam­i­lies across the agri­cul­tural sec­tor in­clud­ing farm­ing, croft­ing and grow­ing.

In re­cent years RSABI has ex­pe­ri­enced a surge in de­mand for ser­vices as well as a strong re­sponse from the wider agri­cul­tural com­mu­nity to as­sist us in their vi­tal work.

Any­one look­ing to get in touch with RSABI can do so by calling the helpline on 0300 111 4166. Open from 7am to 11pm, RSABI can help fi­nan­cially in times of hard­ship and prac­ti­cally when you’re not sure where else to turn.

Help at hand Pamela Samson is a wel­fare of­fi­cer work­ing for RSABI across south west Scot­land

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