THE farming charity RABI will send out more than 650 Christmas hampers during the next two weeks to elderly, sick and disabled people who used to work in agriculture.

The total cost will be £40,000 to £50,000 with most going to those receiving regular allowances from RABI, invariably people over the age of 65, on low incomes with limited savings.

Trish Pickford, RABI’s head of welfare, said: “It’s a sad irony that a lot of retired farmers and farmworkers, who have spent their whole lives producing food for others, now find it hard to put food on their own tables.

“We go to great lengths to recognise those we help as people, rather than statistics. That’s why we also send out things like birthday cards and flowers. It’s important to show someone who may feel isolated that you’re thinking of them. Christmas, for a lot of those we help, is the loneliest time of the year.”

In some parts of the country volunteers deliver them to the door while elsewhere the hampers are distributed by the Leeds-based family firm that produces them, Festival Foods.

Each hamper costs £50, while the price of a double hamper for a couple is £85.

The Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institution (RABI) has had a busy 2018, giving out grants of more than £1.7m to over 1,200 individuals / families. The charity has seen a big increase in the number of requests for help from working people, but still gives considerable sums to non-working people. This includes £101,300 towards care home top-up fees, £177,600 on disability equipment and £56,300 towards home help costs.

Trish Pickford said: “In today’s world there are so many challenges people must face in later life and health issues can be draining, both physically and mentally. We do not shy away from offering long-term support to people, sometimes over several decades.”

Call RABI on the Freephone helpline, 0808 281 9490.