National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

20 April 2020

Hundreds of YFC members pulled on their aprons to prove their prowess at making sponge cakes in the first of NFYFC’s YFC Isolation Challenges.

Social media was flooded with proud posts from YFC members showing off their sponge cake triumphs – with not a “soggy bottom” in sight. And due to the popularity of the challenge, there will now be a 'Showstopper' Cake Tent at the Greatest Agricultural Online Show that will be hosted on the 2 May and NFYFC President Charlotte Smith will judge the entries. 

NFYFC’s baking challenge was a simple idea to encourage YFC members to do something fun while at home – and was a great activity for those home schooling at the moment too.

Activities such as these are also aimed at improving mental wellbeing as members can be productive and connect with others by sharing images of their final masterpieces online.

Sophie, 10, from Bicester & Islip Junior YFC in Oxfordshire, took part in the YFC Isolation Bake Off challenge by making a chocolate cake and piping ‘Stay at Home’ on the top of it. 

“With our county rally being cancelled, it was a chance to show off my baking skills,” said Sophie who is a keen baker and has also taken part in the Snapshot and Revamp challenges too.

“I think they’re great,” said Sophie about the new NFYFC challenges. “They’re a good way to see other YFC members’ ideas and to stay in touch.”

Tabitha Bradley from Witheridge YFC in Devon iced her sponge cake to create a pink bunny – complete with ears protruding from the top of the cake.

“I decided to take part in the YFC Bake Off because I enjoy baking and I thought it would be something fun to do. I decided to make a pink bunny cake, as it was nice and cheerful, and with Easter around the corner it seemed relevant,” said Tabitha.

“This wasn't a new challenge for me as I have made and decorated many cakes before. However this challenge encouraged me to think of new ideas and develop baking skills whilst in isolation. When I set out on this challenge I thought it would be quite quick and simple but after piping a small section of the pink icing I discovered it was going to take a very long time!

Tabitha said the challenges are a good way to encourage people to try new things and share their talents. 

She added: “These challenges also encourage people to stay busy and be part of the NFYFC community, which is especially important at this difficult time to ensure people stay connected.”

NFYFC Chairman Dewi Parry announces the following week’s challenges on his live updates with members on Facebook every Friday night at 8pm.

The top five entries from each challenge will be submitted to the YFC Isolation Challenge Finals that will be held during the Greatest Online Agricultural Show on 2 May 2020. The Showstopper Challenge requires YFC members to share photos of their magnificent 'bakes' on 2 May.

Find out more about the YFC isolation challenges here.  

  

 
 


20 April 2020

Supporting farmers with grain marketing decisions is still a role Luke Cox from Malmesbury YFC is able to fulfil in isolation while he’s based on the family farm in the Cotswolds.

What’s your job?

I work for Frontier Agriculture, the UK’s leading crop production and grain marketing business. As a farm trader I form close customer relationships with farmers to support their business in grain marketing decisions. I have customers stretching from Devon through to Nottingham, and I enjoy helping them to add value to the crops they grow by linking them with a variety of end markets for their grain.

Has the Coronavirus impacted your family farm?

The family farm in the Cotswolds has not been directly hit by Coronavirus yet, as the majority of work is carried out in isolation anyway and food production is rightly classed as essential work. Further down the line, however, I think the industry must expect the nature of how food is produced in the UK to change. Will the UK actively work to become more self-sufficient? Will consumers quickly return to eating out as much as they used to, now more people have had to cook more meals at home? It is too early to know what will change permanently, but the adaptations we have all made during this crisis could alter our behaviour.

What plans have you put in place to manage the possible impact of the outbreak?

As a farm trader, the biggest change to my way of working has been the transition to home working. There is no doubt that it is a very different way of working, but I am very fortunate that I am supported well by the company I work for in terms of technology and equipment and I have my own office space at home. I also don’t have anyone depending on me or to manage my time around, such as children. This has made it very easy for me to complete my normal work routine during the day, and then shut the door on my office at the end of the day to create a clear separation between work and home. In all other respects of my work, it is business as usual. I still look after my customers and provide them with the information they need, and our supply chain connections ensure we can deliver our first-class service in as close to the usual way as possible.

How do you feel about the essential role British farming is playing during the crisis?

Food production is essential, and if supply chains are disrupted as we near the peak of the coronavirus, UK food is likely to become even more in focus. As some products disappear off supermarket shelves due to panic buying or lack of supply, many local farm shops remain stocked with fresh, traceable food produced on the consumer’s doorstep.  There has been a noticeable and significant increase in appreciation for people in the NHS who are working around the clock to save lives.  Once the coronavirus crisis has ended, it would be great if one of the legacies is people having a better understanding of the countryside and role farmers have in UK food production.

Should the public be concerned about food shortages?

Britain’s farmers are still producing food, just as they always have. To protect that essential food production it is important that we all respect the land and facilities we use when we access the countryside, for example when we are out walking.

What ways are your YFC supporting each other?

Whilst the coronavirus crisis has restricted personal contact, the volume of online communication has significantly increased. One member within our club has organised a quiz once a week, where we all meet up on video link and compete for beer tokens once the pubs reopen.  Outside of Young Farmers I have been taking part in online quizzes, answering questions with friends over video as another means to maintain contact and support each other.  Both in a social sense and a business sense, the forced move to virtual meetings has highlighted the strong benefits of shorter, more frequent discussions, which ensure as individual groups we remain connected and look after each other.

If you would like to be featured in one of our YFC frontline profiles, please email media@nfyfc.org.uk. 


16 April 2020

Since being in lockdown, primary school teacher Victoria Boxall-Hunt from Newton St Cyres YFC in Devon, has been keeping busy by knitting baby hats for the local neonatal unit.

Q. Why did you decide to knit hats for the neonatal unit?

A. Knitting baby hats for the Neonatal Unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital has been on my ‘to-do’ list for many years. I’m a primary school teacher and since I’m now working from home most of the time, I wanted to do something away from my laptop but also something worthwhile and for a purpose.

Q. Has the knitting been a positive experience?

A. I’m not sure whether the unit is in greater need for hats during this time but I hope that it brings a smile to a worried parent’s face.

Personally, knitting these hats has filled my time well whilst isolating. After my first week of working from home, my eyes were hurting from the time I was spending on my laptop. This made me factor in breaks where I would do something away from the screen, like go for a walk, knitting or baking.

Q. Is knitting something you have taken up since being in isolation?

A. My grandma taught me how to knit many years ago but I hadn’t done much since so this is a new hobby since isolation began.

Q. Is your YFC managing to stay connected?

A. We’ve been trying really hard as a club to stay connected in these strange times. Over the past few weeks, we’ve done the loo roll challenge, quiz and bingo nights over Zoom and the Club Chairman and I are planning other activities, like a game of charades – we’re trying to think creatively! I also recently sent messages to each individual member to check how they are and to encourage them to get in touch with a member of the committee if they need anything.

Q. Do you feel proud to be supporting the NHS at this time?

A. I’m very proud to support the NHS, even more so now due to Covid-19. My mum, sister and many friends work for the NHS and my dad runs a care home – this makes it all the more personal and special.

I would urge all YFC members to do what they can to help during this national crisis. This could be simply doing your job, like producing good quality, British food! If you have some spare time like me, then get your creative hats on and use your skills to do something good. Stay safe everyone. 


14 April 2020

An isolation challenge set up by a Young Farmers’ Club in Wales raised more than £6,000 for the local Intensive Care Unit on Easter Monday after their members walked the distance from Holyhead to Paris – and back again!

Gwenyth Richards, Vice Chairman of Pontsian YFC in Ceredigion, was inspired to do the fundraiser after both her parents recently recovered from Covid-19.

“My dad was treated in A&E and luckily didn’t need the ICU,” said Gwenyth who organised the event in a week. “I wanted to do something to show our thanks and also to bring the club together as we are unable to meet at the moment.”

Gwenyth asked everyone to walk, run or do some other form of exercise, in their garden or when out on their daily exercise, and record the miles they had covered. In total, 140 people took part in the activity, which included members of the club, siblings, parents and grandparents.

“We had intended to walk 218 miles from Holyhead to Cardiff but in the end the combined efforts meant we had made it to Paris and back again, with a few more miles to spare – a total of more than 1100 miles!”

The club set up a Just Giving page where people could leave donations in support of their efforts.

“I was amazed,” said Gwenyth who spent the day posting members’ photos and videos on social media to motivate everyone. “We were hoping to raise around £2,000 but by lunchtime we had already reached more than double that amount!”

The fundraiser also caught the attention of some famous faces too, who recorded messages of support that Gwenyth shared on the club’s social media accounts. Messages included those from classical singer Aled Hall and Steff Hughes from Scarlets Rugby.

Setting up the fundraiser involved two Zoom meetings and some delegation!

“We had a couple of Zoom chats and then I organised everyone on the Sunday night and gave people different roles. We had a rota and everyone knew what they were doing.

“It has been really special as not only club members have been involved but families too. It gave everyone something to do over the bank holiday weekend, which has been good for everyone’s mental health.,” explained Gwenyth.

Pontsian YFC was not alone in its fundraising attempts over the weekend though as Keyston YFC in Pembrokeshire also held a sponsored walk ‘at home’. The club raised more than £1,900 for Hwyel Dda (the local health board in Wales) after walking a collective 500 miles (the distance from Dogmaels, back to Amroth and then back to Blue Lagoon).

Club Chairman Eleri Bethan said in a video recorded on the day: "I am incredibly proud as Chairman of you guys in Keyston Young Farmers right now. All the effort you are putting in and staying safe, while also helping to support the community and those around you."  

You can still donate to the Pontsian YFC fundraiser here and the Keyston YFC fundraiser here.  

Is your YFC hosting a fundraiser? Tell media@nfyfc.org.uk so NFYFC can share your achievements.  


 


09 April 2020

Volunteering to work on the frontline during the Coronavirus was important to YFC member and student nurse Hollie Brookes, 19, from Uttoxeter YFC. Hollie is only in her second year of training but despite the nerves, is leaving the family dairy farm behind to work on a placement in a busy city hospital. 

Q. Why are you training to be a nurse?

A. I started my nurse training in March 2019 and have just started my second year. I have always enjoyed working with people and it made sense to go into a nursing role so that I could make a difference.

Q. Are you volunteering?

A. I have volunteered via the NHS so that if anyone in the area needs any deliveries or is in any trouble I may be able to help. I am also part of a Uttoxeter support group on Facebook that anyone can join!

Q. How are you feeling about working on the frontline during the crisis?

A. I am nervous about going into the Accident and Emergency ward in hospital, as with any ward like that, it can be unpredictable. I am aware that current doctors and nurses are stressed and at high risk. However it’s the right thing to do and hopefully I can be of some help in this difficult time.

Q. Will you need to isolate from your family?

A. Before going on placement I will help on the family dairy farm when needed. However, once back in hospital it would be unsafe to travel home whilst working,  as it would be a risk and my family understand that this has to be the priority.

Q. Has your YFC been supporting you?

A. My YFC friends have been really supportive and helped to keep me motivated, the community spirit within YFC is strong. 

Q. Are there any skills you have picked up through YFC that you think will support you in your role?

A. The confidence that Young Farmers has given me has helped me immensely with my communication skills in a hospital setting. This includes being able to talk to all age groups and I feel like I can turn my hand to almost anything because of the sheer variety of things I have done with YFC.

Q. Have you managed to stay connected to your YFC and what are you missing the most?

A. YFC have been able to keep all members involved through the use of social media. Uttoxeter JNFU is particularly creative with keeping members connected. I miss the social aspect of YFC and all the events which allows clubs across the county to come together.

Q. Do you have any advice for YFC members?

A. Stay connected, keep healthy and stick to Government guidelines so we can get through this faster.

If you are a key worker who is working during the Coronavirus and would like to be profiled, please email media@nfyfc.org.uk.



06 April 2020

Members of Young Farmers’ Clubs (YFCs) are being encouraged to stay connected during the Covid-19 crisis through a new initiative called YFC at Home, developed by The National Federation of Young Farmers’ Clubs (NFYFC).

Working with YFC members, who are part of NFYFC’s steering groups, the Federation has developed activities and information to deliver YFC at Home.

The plans aim to unite YFC members during a period of uncertainty and to provide practical and engaging ways for rural young people to stay connected during isolation. The programme of activity is also intended to help young people develop skills if they are currently not in school or work.

NFYFC Chairman Dewi Parry said: “Living in rural locations generally means our members are familiar with being in isolation – however the necessary Covid-19 restrictions have only made this remoteness worse. The weekly YFC meeting is often seen as a lifeline for a lot of members – especially those working on the farm who rarely get to meet up with friends.

“NFYFC is keen to ensure that the YFC community stay connected during these challenging times to improve members’ mental well-being and support those around them.”

There are four key elements to the YFC at Home strategy, which include

  • Supporting communities – practical guidance on how YFCs can continue to support their local communities during the crisis.
  • Taking care of yourself – a focus on mental well-being and ensuring YFC members look after their physical and mental health.
  • Staying connected – ideas and support to help counties, clubs and members stay safely connected through online solutions during the crisis.
  • Support for farmers – support for young farmers as well as advice on how YFC can support the wider farming community. NFYFC is supporting the Farming Help helpline and promoting HOPS’ seasonal labour opportunities to support UK growers.

One of the more fun elements of YFC at Home is the launch of the YFC Isolation Challenges. These weekly social media challenges reflect NFYFC’s competitions programme, and are aimed at YFC members practising key skills and sharing their results with the YFC community (and the general public) online.

So far, a YFC Isolation Bake Off attracted more than 100 entries with YFC members showcasing their ‘bakes’ on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

This week’s challenge – announced by NFYFC Chairman Dewi Parry during a Facebook live video chat on Friday night – is to take a photo to reflect a moment in isolation for a YFC member.

The isolation challenges will also culminate in mini ‘Challenge Finals’ where the best five in each category will be put forward to be voted on by the public. It is hoped that the first Challenge Final will be held at the Greatest Online Agricultural Show on 2 May 2020.

Dewi Parry added: “Competitions are an important part of the YFC programme that we know many YFC members are really missing right now. We wanted to bring some of these skill-based activities back and our YFC Isolation Challenges are a fun way to do this online. We also hope it showcases to a wider audience how important YFC is to young people living in rural communities.”

NFYFC has also been working closely with its 46 County Federations to help them manage their charities during the crisis. As well as weekly Covid-19 briefings and daily updates where appropriate, there are also new weekly video calls with county offices as well as catch ups with county chairs, which have received positive feedback.

Many County Federations and clubs have already started online activities to communicate with their members – and are holding virtual committee meetings, quizzes and fun challenges.

Dewi Parry will also be hosting weekly YFC at Home video chats on Facebook to help bring the YFC community together on a national scale.

For more information about YFC at Home, visit the new section of the website here. 


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