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Farming with Dyslexia Campaign Marks One Year Anniversary Celebrating Achievements So Far

NFU Scotland’s Farming with Dyslexia campaign is celebrating its first year anniversary by setting objectives to continue to develop the successful initiative for the future.

Over the last 12 months the Union has been working with various organisations to seek practical solutions to make life easier for dyslexic members of the farming community.

Following the campaign launch on 22 July 2014, the Farming With Dyslexia (FWD) Working Group was formed, bringing together organisations working within the rural sector, as well as Dyslexia Scotland.

The FWD Working Group continues to meet regularly to discuss the issue of dyslexia in farming and rural communities, and what measures and tools can be put in place to make life easier for those working in land-based industries.

Since the launch, the Union has helped farmers and crofters –fielding queries about how the campaign has helped them, and in response setting up a dedicated helpline to signpost those seeking further help or advice.

A successful reception in the Scottish Parliament took place in March and received cross-party support. It brought together MSPs and dyslexic farmers and crofters as well as wider industry groups and groups in the dyslexia field to discuss this issue further.

In June a well-attended drop-in session was hosted jointly with Dyslexia Scotland at the Royal Highland Show. This was tied in with the appointment of the Young Ambassador role launched with the support of Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment Richard Lochhead. The Young Ambassador, Kirstie Baird from Lanark, will promote the campaign amongst peers in the young farmers’ movement.

Focussing on the future, NFU Scotland will shortly launch a Best Practice in Communications Guide, which will encourage partner groups and wider stakeholders to sign up to the principles of writing documents in a dyslexia-friendly and accessible manner. NFU Scotland has already overhauled its house style and is carrying out continual review sessions with staff to encourage best practice principles.

The Union, and similarly the Working Group, will engage with Access to Work officers to explore what tools farmers can access to help them with their day-to-day work.

Further to this, work will continue with Scottish Government to ensure the effects of dyslexia on rural businesses are fully recognised.

NFU Scotland Vice President Rob Livesey, chairman of the FWD Working Group, commented: “There has been a great deal of good work that has taken place since the launch of the campaign. However, situations cannot change overnight and there is still further work to be done to ensure that individuals working in farming do not feel their career prospects are limited due to dyslexia or any other learning difficulty.

“Reflecting on what has been achieved so far, we have brought together politicians, industry groups, dyslexic farmers and crofters with decision-makers and organisations that do vital work promoting the interests of dyslexic individuals. The campaign has also received support from those not just in Scotland, but others elsewhere in UK who admire what we are doing to support our members.

“The focus of the next year will be to identify those practical tools and measures that can be put in place to ensure farmers and crofters with dyslexia are not disadvantaged and are able to operate their businesses to their full potential.

“We greatly appreciate the support of the Scottish Government and Dyslexia Scotland, as well as our other partners on the FWD Working Group as we move towards this goal.”  

Rural Affairs Secretary Richard Lochhead said: “This is a significant milestone in NFU Scotland’s Farming with Dyslexia campaign, and I very much welcome the progress that has been made so far.

“We know a significant number of people working in Scottish agriculture have dyslexia, which is why the Scottish Government is committed to doing what it can – through its work on the Farming with Dyslexia Working Group - to provide appropriate assistance.

“This includes reviewing the way Rural Payments and Inspections Division communicates with staff and customers to identify ways in which it can be more dyslexia-friendly, for example by developing a style guide for written documents, improving staff training and increasing the accessibility of the new Rural Payments and Services online system.”

Cathy Magee of Dyslexia Scotland commented: “On the first anniversary of the Farming with Dyslexia campaign, I would like to congratulate NFU Scotland and all the partner organisations and individuals involved.

“The campaign has greatly increased public awareness of the impact of dyslexia on farmers, as has been demonstrated in the number of calls from farmers to both the Union’s and Dyslexia Scotland’s helplines. The challenge will now be to continue the important work of putting practical support in place so that farmers can begin to see tangible changes in their day to day working lives. Dyslexia Scotland very much welcomes the opportunity to be a partner in taking this work forward.”

Note to Editors

  • A photograph with NFU Scotland Vice President Rob Livesey at the FWD Parliamentary Reception is available on request by contacting media@nfus.org.uk or 0131 472 4108.
  • The Farming with Dyslexia Working Group was formed in August 2014 following the campaign launch and consists of the following organisations: NFU Scotland, Scottish Government, Dyslexia Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Association of Young Farmer’s Clubs, NFU Scotland members, Crofting Commission, RSABI and Scotland’s Rural College.

Ends

Contact Ruth McClean on 0131 472 4108
 

Date Published:

News Article No.: 138/15


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