Below is a monthly summary of the journey I took whilst undertaking the BattleField project. I decided the best way to do that would be to update at the end of each month as I went along.
Well I only returned to University last week. Over the last few weeks I must’ve changed my MMP idea at least ten times! I thought about doing something political, something in the arts, something sport-based. But eventually I decided I wanted to do something that I didn’t think anyone else was doing. The high rate of suicide in farming.
I’ve seen this printed a few times in the news and for some reason it was a story that really stuck with me. I think it’s because after reading about it I then asked a simple question – why? And the truthfully I didn’t know the answer, in fact after a bit of research it doesn’t seem like there is one. So I’m excited to try and answer that.
I’ve also decided to publish this in a magazine format. I feel that this will give me the freedom to discuss this subject in any manner or tone of my choosing. I think it’s perfect for an investigative feature in a mature and serious magazine.
I haven’t decided how I’m going to go about this project, but hopefully when I meet my tutor week – things will become clearer.
At the start of October I met with my tutor, Emma Scattergood, and I informed her as to what I wanted to do. Fortunately I had done some prior research and had some background information and statistics at hand.
She took well to the idea. It wasn’t something she was aware of, and she wanted to know more. She encouraged me to keep going, to find out more and to ultimately find some people that would be great to interview. I took a lot of confidence from this meeting.
That week I sent multiple emails to people that I thought would know more about the subject – and might even want to speak to me as an interviewee in the article. I sent an email to the Farming Community Network (FCN), a charity that support farmers and their families through difficult times.
I sent another email to You Are Not Alone, who are another charity who provide support for farmers with depression. As it turns out they only provide support for farmers in Suffolk and Norfolk so alas they couldn’t help me but were very helpful.
I spoke to Mind, who are the leading British charity in mental health. They gave me some great statistics as well as some possible paths to go down – which I did.
I also spoke to the NFU, the national, south west and south east divisions. They were eager to help me and gave me the details of some farmers who seem keen to discuss the topic further.
I sent an email to Papyrus UK, who are also eager to discuss the subject. I also sent emails to some farming families who had lost people to suicide. I didn’t get a reply and thought it best that I didn’t push them.
At the end of the month I had to do a three minute assessed pitch to Emma and Deborah Colcutt. I had to outline my idea, how I was going about it, the platform, the publication, target audience as well added online, audio and video value. It went well. They were enthusiastic about the idea. They told me I need to hone my idea down somewhat and gave me some really interesting ideas as to some relevant subjects I could discuss such as Brexit or British supermarkets.
Early this month I interviewed Glyn Evans from the FCN. He informed me of the great work the FCN do, and how important it is in the farming community.
He also gave me some interesting statistics, that actually showed me that the figures were even worse than the ones I had found so far. During our interview he gave me some opinionated views on the subject I was tackling. I knew they would be great for my article and my project as whole. He has really helped me push this project forward and for that I’m very grateful.
A couple of weeks later I interviewed young farmer, Tom Anderson. He gave some interesting insights from the point of view of a farmer who is finding his feet in the industry. He suggested that young people today are very aware of mental health issues which he said was great. I agreed.
I met my tutor a couple times this month and we tried to make sure I have everything I need and that I am on top of everything – which luckily I am!
At this point, the project is really starting to come together. I’m excited to see where it will go next. Each person I spoke to taught me a little bit more about the farming industry and about the subject I am writing about.
Earlier this month I got in contact with George Hosford, a farmer from Dorset. I was given his name and number by Alex at the NFU South West. I went to meet George on the 12th December. I decided to take some camera equipment with me in order to do film the interview as well as the farm. We spoke about his farming background, depression, isolation, the EU, Brexit and discussed whether British supermarkets are doing enough to support British farmers. I won’t spoil the answer for you.
I then got in contact with Kelly Thorpe from Papyrus UK. Papyrus are a charity that deal with the prevention of young suicide. I interviewed here before finishing for the Christmas break. We discussed a lot of really interesting issues. It was great to hear the work that Kelly and Papyrus do and it sounds like they really make a difference in people’s lives.
A lot of this month consisted of writing and editing. Piecing the article together day-by-day before I had a 3000 word article and had to cut it down to half. I edited the video on Adobe Premiere Pro. I edited the audio on Adobe Audition. I put together a layout on Adobe InDesign that replicated that of my target publication, the Guardian Weekend Magazine. I edited photos used on the article as well as Buzz in Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator. And now the next week or so will consist of finishing editing as well as checking everything twice, three times and the rest.
I write my final month before submitting my work. It has been an exhausting journey but also a very interesting one. I’ve ended up with a piece of work that I can proudly say is the best I’ve ever created. In the new year I continued to edit, re-edit and re-re-edit the article, the website, the audio and video.
Yesterday I wrote a 1000-word outline and justification regarding the project. It was fairly easy to write because I had so much to talk about. That’s been a common theme over the last few months. The work hasn’t really felt like work because I’ve enjoyed it and taken a genuine interest in what I’ve been doing. I hope to write something related to this topic again, and pray that all my hard work has paid off and you enjoy it.
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