FOLK2FOLK has hired Ian Bell as its head of farm and rural engagement, and to head up its corporate, social and responsibility programme.
The peer-to-peer business lender, which focuses on providing finance for rural, local and farming businesses, said on Tuesday that Bell has been a prominent figure in the UK agricultural arena for many years.
He created the rural charity The Addington Fund in 2001, where he held the role of chief executive before stepping down this month.
In the newly created role of head of farm and rural engagement, Bell will be tasked with raising Folk2Folk’s profile across rural Britain and improving relations with the farming community. He will also be the firm’s representative with industry bodies, local and central government and other external organisations.
During 2018, Bell will also lead Folk2Folk’s corporate, social, and responsibility programme, with the launch of a new charitable foundation. This foundation will seek to address social deprivation in rural areas, help newcomers enter the farming industry and support those in the industry who are struggling.
“Building a strong and vibrant rural economy is vital to our long-term wellbeing and Ian’s knowledge, guidance and experience can only strengthen Folk2Folk’s reputation as a trusted enabler for UK farmers and rural business, supporting their plans for growth, development and diversification and helping them achieve sustainable profitability,” said chief executive Giles Cross.
“His participation in and commitment to the local lending movement will, I have no doubt, help us accelerate awareness of our organisation, of what we offer and what we’re trying to achieve.”
“The opportunity to create a new charitable foundation, allowing me to continue my charitable work within the farming and rural community whilst, at the same time increasing awareness of Folk2Folk across the UK rural sector presents a perfect balance for me,” said Bell.
“I will be perfectly placed to help further meet the needs of our customers, those who knit, financially and socially, the fabric of our rural communities together and to satisfy my life’s passion, to support individuals and families across those communities facing continual challenges which are often outside of their control.”