There’s no denying coronavirus has changed nearly every aspect of modern life in some way – we’re not traveling into offices, shops and restaurants are closed and foreign air travel is halted.This last one is proving to be a particular problem for farmers – there are an estimated 50-60,000 field worker positions needing to be filled every year in the UK, most of these normally being taken on by workers from overseas.
The government estimates that only a third of the necessary migrant labour workforce entered the country before lockdown, meaning we currently have a huge shortage of field workers in the UK. In turn, this means produce going to rot in the fields, therefore forcing supermarket prices to soar.
Enter Pick for Britain. This new campaign is reigniting the spirit of the Second World War Land Army by encouraging people to take on field worker jobs, including picking fruit and vegetables, packing produce, plant husbandry and tractor or forklift driving.
So important is this campaign, that it is even being endorsed by the royal family – @clarencehouse posted a video of Prince Charles talking passionately about the Pick for Britain campaign, urging people to sign up by saying: ‘Food does not happen by magic; it all begins with our remarkable farmers and growers’.
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“I do not doubt that the work will be unglamorous and, at times, challenging. But it is of the utmost importance and, at the height of this global pandemic, you will be making a vital contribution to the National effort.” . The Prince of Wales has shared a message in support of the #PickforBritain campaign, which encourages anyone looking for work during these unprecedented times to consider a job picking fruit and vegetables this summer. A farmer himself, The Prince is Patron or President of many organisations that help preserve rural communities and protect British agriculture. Find out more about the Pick for Britain campaign and how you can get involved through the link in our Instagram Story.
In particular, Pick for Britain are hoping that people who have recently lost their jobs or have been furloughed will take on the work – anyone 18 or over can apply (and there may even be some specific roles for 16 to 18-year-olds available on some farms) and you don’t need any prior experience as all training will be provided by the farms. Pay will be at least minimum or living wage and all farms are required to practice safe social distancing as per the government guidelines.
The website warns: ‘There’s no mistaking picking can be hard work and can involve being outdoors through all weather conditions. Some of the work will depend on the weather, so flexibility in term of hours you work will be required. A good level of fitness is usually required.’ But other than that, anyone can get picking for Britain!