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RSABI’s roots go back to 1897.  The Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution was founded in 1897 to mark Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee and in recognition of the deep agricultural depression at the time. Many tenant farmers struggled on, often until they died, rather than give up their tenancies to retire at a reasonable age.  There were no pensions and little, if any, support for those no longer able to work. 

The new Institution’s aim was to help elderly, infirm, distressed and disabled Scottish tenant farmers and their dependants.  At its first AGM, the funds available allowed 16 “pensioners” to be elected, each receiving £20 per year.  Applications for help became public knowledge through the publication of names and circumstances.

Over many years, the charity evolved and, through the hard work of a band of local collectors throughout Scotland and the generosity of many supporters, was able to help more people in need.  RSABI began to provide more than just financial assistance and a Welfare Secretary was employed to visit beneficiaries who could talk in confidence about issues affecting them with someone who cared, yet was not a family member, neighbour or close friend. Advice was provided on such things as State Benefits and sources of funding for home adaptations and disability aids.

The structure of the charity was brought up to date in 2005, when the work of the Royal Scottish Agricultural Benevolent Institution transferred to RSABI, a company limited by guarantee.  

Today, RSABI is a thoroughly modern charity, with a corporate structure and a Board of Trustees who, whilst having their roots in the land, bring, on a voluntary basis, the necessary variety of skills required to govern the charity.  RSABI provides financial and practical support and friendship to over 600 individuals and their families across a range of occupations with the common theme of working on the land in Scotland.  We have a skilled and dedicated staff team who work together and are ready to help, in strictest confidence, anyone who comes to us who is within our scope and in need of support.   

To learn a little more about how RSABI operates, see our Memorandum and Articles of Association.

 Midge Hay RSABI Organising Secretary from 1966 to 1986


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