The Gay Farmers Helpline was set up by agricultural chaplain
Keith Ineson, who is gay himself, in late 2009.
The helpline mainly serves farmers in Cheshire and the North
East, many of whom are severely depressed.
"These are not just people who are having a bad day," says
Chaplain Ineson. "Some of these men and women are seriously
"Almost all of them that call are over 50, half are married and
the vast majority aren't out. They are having to deal with the
mental health problems that go along with that."
Since the helpline was set up, Chaplain Ineson has spoken to some
90 individual farmers, many of whom have benefited.
"The response has been overwhelming," continued Chaplain Ineson.
"They say it makes such a difference to speak to someone. Many are
shy at first, but when they get talking everything flows
Cheshire county chairman of the National Farmers Union Robert Ford
said: "Although I don't believe that farming or homosexuality
within the industry are the root causes of depression, it's still
very reassuring to know that Keith Ineson's helpline is available
for those farmers who find themselves facing difficult
Chaplain Ineson has expressed an interest in expanding the
helpline and has called for volunteers to help man the phones.
"In a generation's time hopefully [the helpline] won't be needed
but for the time being we need to keep going and hope it works