The Health and Social Consequences of the 2001 Foot and Mouth Epidemic in North Cumbria
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[Front line worker]

After that first two or three weeks, we realised we were always going to be working three weeks behind, because the first diseased animal that was discovered in the abattoir in Essex we know had gone through Longtown Mart three weeks before, so we knew that we were three weeks behind and they just well, it was panic basically.

[Small business]

MAFF2 came and knocked on the door it was a Saturday, can’t remember what month it was. March? April? And they sort of asked a few questions and I explained that, “ look, I live on a farm 10 miles away” and they let me know that I couldn’t return home there and weren’t really able to offer alternatives. They said, “we can’t stop you from coming to your business premises here because the buildings aren’t directly attached to any farm buildings”, whereas the other units across the way were and they had to leave um but that was no help in the situation, that I had, I don’t know, £50 in my pocket and the clothes I was stood up in and nowhere to go.

Basically, the first 2 nights the Saturday and the Sunday night, I slept in the car. I tried a few help-lines that MAFF had handed me, um and the run of the mill I suppose in conversation with a lot of them was, “‘I’m sorry it’s sort of unusual circumstances, there’s nothing we can do to help you”. And only with the last one, I forget who they were now, suggested I get in touch with the Local Authority which I did on the Monday morning and they housed me in a guest house. So , I was in an attic room for 2 weeks. I had to approach the bank because obviously there was no funds coming in, things were very, very tight. I needed some money to survive the 2 weeks.

So the Guest House were offering meals at £10 er, and it was a nice meal, three course meal, but £10 a night. I had to buy toiletries; I had to buy two sets of clothes, sweat shirts and slacks. MAFF had informed me that if I come here then when I leave the premises I have to ….. or, before I leave the premises, assuming I have a shower here,. . . . I have to shower. I have to wash the clothes in no less than 60 degrees centigrade, none of which I adhered to at all because it was just not possible. It was a crazy situation, plus the fact that the [blood] test came back negative. I mean it was just the fact that they were a dangerous contact, they had to be taken out [culled], but that 2 week period was a nightmare.

[Frontline worker]

I think every farm you went to is, "Oh bloody DEFRA" even though you’re going to. . . . . because at the end of the day. . . I was actually going there to do them a favour really. I was helping them to move their stock, which helped them, but you always got the "bloody DEFRA" this that and the other or stronger in many cases, but hopefully, I like to think to my interpersonal skills. I spoke their own language. So what I always used to do is, I always used to ensure that I was there to help. I didn’t want to stand there looking like a spare one at a wedding. I was dropping down the trailer tailgate, I was opening up the tail, I was manning gates, I was herding the stock on. We got to the field, I was the first one out of the car to open the gate into the field so that he could back up, and that way I gained the respect of the farmer because I showed him that I was prepared to help him properly, not just, I’m here, I’m DEFRA.

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