RURAL Support had a busy Balmoral Show, starting on Wednesday with its event ‘Making a Difference in Rapidly Changing Times’ hosted by ABP.
The event included a panel discussion with several industry experts exploring how the sector can better work together to support farmers in challenging times for the sector.
Then on Friday the Rural Support team officially launched a new mental health project entitled Reviving Rural, funded through the Department of Health’s Mental Health Fund via the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland.
The Reviving Rural event saw many key stakeholders across the industry gather to celebrate the launch of the project, which comes as the organisation celebrates its 20th year. The new project will help address poor mental and emotional health for farmers and farming families.
Speaking at the event, Veronica Morris, Chief Executive of Rural Support, said: “Over the next two years, the Reviving Rural project will do two key things to expand the breadth of support already offered by the organisation through its farm business mentoring programme.
“Firstly, it will provide, where needed, one-to-one professional counselling and trauma therapy support for farmers and farming families who are in crisis situations, including those affected by farm accidents, loss, bereavement, and trauma working with all members of the farming family.
“And secondly, it will build on its preventative services and programmes by providing digital resources and targeted campaigns to help farmers and farming families to access information, learn new skills and work together to manage risks and plan for healthier mental and physical health. This aspect of the project will include specifically working with women and young people in agriculture to help them develop new habits and emotional toolkits to navigate their mental wellbeing and learn how to best support other farming family members.
“We are delighted to have secured this new funding and through the development of the Reviving Rural Project, Rural Support is continuing to take practical and tailored steps to support farmers and farming families to build resilience.”
Earlier at the show, Minister for Health Robin Swann congratulated the organisation on its 20th anniversary and the launch of this new initiative, saying: “For the past 20 years the charity has been working across the region supporting farmers and their families through the many challenges that come with living and working in rural Northern Ireland. I am delighted to support the launch of the Reviving Rural project, which will enable the organisation to strengthen the support it currently provides, and I look forward to seeing the impact of its delivery on the ground.”
The event also marked the 20th year of Rural Support working with farmers and farming families across Northern Ireland.
Gemma Daly, Chair of Rural Support, spoke about the breadth and impact of the work that the organisation has been doing since it was founded over 20 years ago as a response to foot and mouth.
Dr John Gilliland OBE, who was Rural Support’s first Chair when set up in 2002 and instrumental in its development, spoke of how the organisation was first formed and his pride in seeing how the charity has evolved as well as the significant contribution it has made to the farming community over the years.
Rural Support continues to grow its connections in the farming and agri-sector and in the past year has supported 28,500 beneficiaries through its various programmes, services, and digital hub, supporting farmers and farming families with their business and personal well-being, and helping them to adapt and respond to challenges within the sector.
n If you would like to find out more about the Reviving Rural project and other services and programmes available at Rural Support, go to the NI Farm Support hub at www.ruralsupport.org.uk or telephone the Support Line on Freephone 0800 138 1678, available Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm.
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