The Gamekeepers Welfare Trust (GWT) supports retired gamekeepers, stalkers and their families and increasingly working keepers, often under the most intense stress and pressure. Health is paramount to working lives in a physically demanding job but the effects on the individual gamekeeper and his/her family from mental ill health has caused alarm more recently.
The Gamekeeping survey the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust published in June of 2020 confirmed the need to provide further services to help alleviate stress and promote mental health well being. This view is further reinforced by the excellent survey published by the Scottish Government recently “Driven grouse moors – socioeconomic and biodiversity impacts” where members of the SGA, BASC Scotland and Moorland Groups took part.
As of 1st December 2020 counselling services as well as Jamie’s Helpline, resilience training and associated support will be available. The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust is not a membership organisation and help is not dependent on being any member except as a gamekeeper, stalker or ghillies. This is a free, confidential service and adds to a range of support services, GWT offers all over the UK.
Jamie’s Helpline is a vital tool in reaching out and helping gamekeepers and their families where someone listens and can support someone for as long as required whatever the issue. However it is clear that professional counselling is the next step for someone suffering from depression, anxiety or other mental illness often connected with the pressures of the job. The Gamekeepers’ Welfare Trust is reaching out to the gamekeeping community to offer that support linking with professional counsellors who understand in a rural context.
Professor Ann Mortimer, B.Sc, MB.Ch.B, M.Med.Sci, F.R.C.Psych, M.D. Professor Emeritus, University of Hull, and Consultant Psychiatrist, NAViGO, Grimsby, North East Lincolnshire & BASC council member said
‘The GWT initiative is greatly welcomed as a source of professional support during these very difficult times. Given that shotgun and firearms certification is an essential part of the gamekeeper’s role, most are naturally apprehensive about seeking help with low mood or anxiety. Without help, there may be may be an escalating and substantial compromise of emotional wellbeing, borne alone: counselling represents a way forward, offering potential resolution and personal support.”
Gamekeepers are generally a resilient and tough profession who face the weather day in and day out, long hours and total dedication to their job with a suite of qualifications and experience second to none. Their families see little of them, live in remote areas often with little communication and face their daily tasks with fortitude and quiet dedication. It has long been recognised that many in the profession are facing increasing abuse; maligned by groups which are loud in voice, and thin in substance, increasing rural crime including gundog theft, abuse targeted at their families and even at school, all of which is totally unacceptable and is discrimination of the worst kind.
Helen Benson GWT Chief Executive
“I am absolutely delighted we are now able to offer the next step in support for individuals in our community who need that help along with our support. This is an important move forward to be able to provide a completely holistic service for our gamekeepers and their families”.