BASC England director, Dan Reynolds, discusses the importance of the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust (GWT) under the impact of coronavirus on shooting and the countryside.
2020 was being labelled ‘Year of the Gamekeeper’ by rural organisations to help raise awareness of the incredible work undertaken by the Gamekeepers Welfare Trust (GWT). While 2020 will no doubt be remembered for very different reasons. It is the work undertaken by the GWT that is even more important following the devastating fallout of coronavirus.
The GWT charity is best known for their tireless support of gamekeepers, ghillies, stalkers and their families in their hour of need. Working and living in rural areas can seem idealistic, but it comes with its own concerns. Mental health issues will impact one in four of us, this is thought to be even higher for those in rural areas. The significant work undertaken by the GWT keeps lines of communication open and helps those living and working in some of the most rural areas of the UK.
The current crisis will only highlight the importance of the GWT, and other charities aimed at conquering mental health. Shooting and fishing businesses, both major contributors to the rural economy and job sector, have been hit just as hard by coronavirus as others. The potential of redundancy, furlough or pay cuts weigh heavily on many individuals. If you are involved in the sector and you have yet to hear of the GWT please have a read of their website and the fantastic job that they are undertaking - https://thegamekeeperswelfaretrust.com/
Shooting ploughs £2 billion into the UK economy annually, employing the full time equivalent of 74,000 jobs. Much of this is rurally focused. Millions are spent on conservation projects, creating ponds, planting plantations, and drilling cover crops. Participants, whether shooting or beating, gain exercise, fresh air and social connections. Shooting’s benefit to the UK countryside and inhabitants should not be underestimated.
As an association whose members love the countryside, BASC is keen to ensure, whilst taking due regard of the circumstances, shooting can flourish for the benefit of the countryside. Undue restrictions placed on shooting as a result of coronavirus will be a detriment to the countryside and its participants.
Whilst our work towards supporting sustainable shooting never ceases, neither does the dedicated and life-changing work of the GWT. With many of their fundraising opportunities cancelled, they require all the help they can get.
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