National Federation of Young Farmers' Clubs

Fun, Learning, and Achievement

What does YFC mean to me? Making a difference to my community 

Josie Mitchinson, 22, Raughton Head YFC, Cumbria

It was exciting when the team from the BBC’s Countryfile came to visit to speak to us about the clean-up work we did after the floods hit Carlisle in 2015.

And I can’t deny that seeing the final piece on TV was amazing too. We’d been shortlisted for the Countryfile Awards because of all the work we had done in clearing away all the debris that had been washed up and then left behind as the floodwaters dissipated.

But, of course, we didn’t do it for that kind of recognition – we had no idea it would generate any publicity. We did it because we knew we could help.

It all started the day after the town went under water. My bother Tom and the club leader at the time, Stephen Buckle, organised filling some more sandbags to prevent more houses getting flooded.

A couple of weeks later, they got in touch with the Council to offer their services to use some tractors and trailers to clear the streets of all the rubbish that had been washed up.

We sent the call out to some other local YFCs to get involved – we’ve got four or five in a ten-mile radius – and we got it all done in one day.

It was just cleaning up and tidying up, but the streets looked so much better and the people were so thankful.

Sometimes you feel like you can’t make a difference by yourself – or even as a single club. But when you see how much of a difference you can make, that really gives you confidence and, as a club, we’ve become involved in lots more community projects, including raising funds to buy a defibrillator for the village.

I can’t say if being in YFC has been a factor in my decision to train to be a paramedic. But the community spirit that being a young farmer gives you and a paramedic’s professional duty to help other people aren’t that far apart.

I’m in my final year of training to be a paramedic and being part of YFC has been a huge support.

For example, I was Club Secretary in the year of the flood, which really helped my organisational skills because I had 80-odd members to sort out!

And you need to be able to speak up. Whether you’re organising some fundraising, or pushing for a meeting, or organising a trip, you’ve got to make yourself heard and YFC has been brilliant for me in that regard.

I’ve also learned a lot about communication. You learn how to talk to people of all ages. As well as close friends, you are also engaging with junior members who are still at school, advisory members who are a bit older and, when you’re taking part in competitions, you are speaking to judges who could be any age. As a paramedic, the ability to be able to communicate well with people from all stages of life is crucial.

YFCs are really important for people in rural areas. We can be quite secluded – it’s not like you pass people in the street every day. So that regular contact you get through meeting up once a week with your YFC friends is vital. #image#

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