FOOD processing and butchery, sheep dog handling, viticulture and regenerative farming –in the current Farming Connect programme – approvedmentors offer fully funded one-to-one support on an increasingly widerange of topics.
“Receiving confidential one-to-one guidance and an unbiased perspective from an experienced mentor willing to share their personal experiences ‘good and bad’, saved me from making some very costly mistakes,” are the words of one of the Farming Connect ‘mentees’ who have tapped into the Farming Connect mentoring programme. Launched in 2016, the service has delivered more than 8,000 hours of mentoring to date.
Einir Davies, Farming Connect’s development and mentoring manager, attributes the programme’s popularity to the skills and experience of approved mentors, each of whom is well-placed to offer confidential support based on mutual trust and respect with those in need of a second opinion.
“Demand for the mentoring programme has increased significantly as the industry faces unprecedented economic and environmental challenges, which is why in the current programme, we had accumulated a team of more than 100 mentors located throughout Wales,” said Ms. Davies.
The current list of mentors will be reviewed in readiness for the start of the new programme in April.
“Those hoping to continue in their role as a mentor must inform Farming Connect and review their mentor profile, and we also remain open to applications from other experienced individuals happy to share their knowledge, particularly on any topics not already covered.
“Choosing the right mentor will not only help you develop your own communication skills as you listen, learn and exchange views, but you will be encouraged to consider new ways to find solutions to any challenges you might be facing or discuss ideas you want to develop,” said Ms. Davies.
Ms Davies said that in the last six years, more than 800 mentees have benefited from the programme.
“When asked to provide feedback, almost every mentee said that having a mentor explaining what had worked out well for them within their own business, as well as highlighting the possible pitfalls, had saved them costly mistakes.”
All approved mentors are required to be good listeners as well as good communicators – half the team offer a bilingual service – and each one has the necessary level of personal experience or qualifications within their chosen fields. Topics available include ICT support which can range from assisting farmers wanting to tackle ‘making tax digital’, online record-keeping and form-filling to livestock and land management; business and financial management; social media and marketing.
“Food processing and butchery, sheep dog handling, shearing, regenerative farming, soil biology and interior design for new diversified tourism projects are just a few of the less ‘typical’ mentoring areas such as animal health, soil and grassland management, where we now receive almost daily requests for this type of support,” added Ms Davies.
The Farming Connect mentoring service will continue to provide up to 15 hours of fully funded one-to-one support available to all individuals registered with Farming Connect. An online directory lists key sectors and up to six specialist areas of knowledge for each mentor. The service is available pan-Wales either face-to-face, online or over the telephone. Applicants must be registered with Farming Connect and the service must be applied for in advance by completing the online application form available at www.gov.wales/farmingconnect
Those interested in joining the team of mentors from 01.04.2023 onwards can visit https://menterabusnes.cymru/jobs/farming-connect-mentor/ for a job specification and application form. Alternatively contact Owain Rowlands on 07399 849151 or email [email protected] with any further questions.
Farming Connect is delivered by Menter a Busnes and Lantra Wales and funded by the Welsh Government and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.