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Farms need your help to ‘Feed the Nation’

During World War Two people were encouraged to ‘Dig for Victory’. This encouraged Britons to be self-sufficient – to turn over their flower beds, lawns and back yards to the growing of fruit and vegetables.  In 2020 in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are being urged by the Government to ‘Feed the Nation’. The initiative refers yet again to the provision of fruit and vegetables, but this time UK residents are needed to help in the harvesting and packing of fresh produce on farms and its distribution to grocery retailers.

Foreign workers unable to travel

Why this urgent call to action? Put simply, the majority of these seasonal roles are normally fulfilled by foreign workers, who travel from Eastern Europe each year. Several have longstanding relationships with farmers and return year after year. However, travel restrictions because of coronavirus have dictated that they are unable to come here at the moment.

Of the 90,000 seasonal jobs available on farms, 70,000 are usually undertaken by migrant workers. As you might imagine, this leaves a huge shortfall. If the crops aren’t picked in time, they will rot and be unsaleable. Obviously this has a knock-on effect in terms of supply. Fewer crops harvested translates to a shortage on the supermarket shelves, not to mention the economic effects on the farmers.

It has been reported that around 450 Romanian nationals will be flying in from Bucharest this week, under strict travel controls. They will undertake social distancing on the flights and will be provided with masks and hand sanitisers. This will help to ease the situation a little in East Anglia where they have been allocated jobs to harvest and pack spring onions, peas and beans. Nevertheless, there are still hundreds of jobs to be filled, including pickers, packers, farm machinery operatives and delivery drivers.

Ethically sound farms

There are sometimes reports in the media of poor working conditions and excessive working hours in picking and packing operations. At Verner Wheelock we carry out SMETA ethical audits for a number of growers in the UK to ensure that decent working conditions, living conditions, pay, equality, and working hours are upheld. Recruitment for the ‘Feed the Nation’ initiative is via members of the Alliance of Ethical Labour Providers, so applicants can rest assured that the farms where they would be working meet the required standards.

In addition to receiving at least minimum wage and in many cases the National Living Wage (NLW), workers will receive free travel, health and dental care for the duration of their contract. They will also receive training for their role. This will include safe working practices in line with Government guidelines on social distancing, the wearing of appropriate PPE and should include food safety training.

Furloughed workers can now apply for farm jobs

The Government has recently announced that workers who are currently furloughed from their regular jobs because their employers have had to close due to coronavirus safeguarding, are eligible to apply to ‘Feed the Nation’ as long as their contracts allow it. Students are being encouraged to apply too. Anyone working on a farm will be classed as a key worker. This means they can travel to and from their place of work and their children can attend school.


For more information of how to apply and help the British farming industry in this time of crisis, please visit any of the following sites:
Hops Labour Solution
British Summer Fruits
Asscciation of Labour Providers

Kick start your career with Verner Wheelock

Training Support Assistant, Skipton, North Yorkshire  

If you’ve recently left school or college or are looking for an apprenticeship position or entry level role, you could be just the person we’re looking for!

Verner Wheelock has a fantastic entry level opportunity to join our successful food industry training consultancy based in the beautiful surroundings of the Broughton Hall Estate, just outside Skipton.

We’ve been established since 1990 and train hundreds of delegates every year in subjects such as Food Safety, HACCP, Auditing and other specialist areas. We have an excellent reputation for training and customer service.

This full-time, permanent, Training Support role is an ideal first or second job.  You’ll be taking care of admin duties to make sure everything runs smoothly for our training courses and exams.

What will I need?

  • We’re looking for someone with good levels of literacy, numeracy and attention to detail.
  • You’ll also be an organised self-starter, with the ability to multi-task
  • A flexible, ‘can-do’ approach is necessary as you will be working as part of a small team.
  • You’ll have excellent IT skills and will ideally be  familiar with databases, spreadsheets and PowerPoint.
  • You’re always polite and professional when dealing with clients, both face-to-face and over the telephone.
  • You’re  reliable.

What will I be doing?

This role has loads of different duties to keep you busy, from helping prepare course material and keeping it updated, to booking locations for courses. You’ll be involved with the chasing of purchase orders and ordering office supplies, as well as dealing with post and incoming phone calls.

When courses are running the role will also include setting up the training room, providing refreshments and meeting and greeting delegates.

Full training will be given.

How much will I get paid?

Salary will be commensurate with experience, plus bonus scheme and company pension.

How to apply

If you feel you have the desired skills and enthusiasm for the role, and would like to join our small, friendly team then we would love to hear from you.

Contact Mitch Morrison or Alison Wheelock on 01756 700802 in the first instance, or email your CV to office@vwa.co.uk

You can find out more about Verner Wheelock and what we do at  www.vwa.co.uk