Rural Support Trust set to help farmers in stressful times
Awet and challenging spring has seen stressed farmers contacting the Rural Support Trust for help, according to trust chairman Neil Bateup.
‘‘There are people out there who are struggling. Things are not always easy in spring for farmers, and when we get a wet spring like we’ve had, we see more people contacting us looking for support,’’ he said.
‘‘Workload and weather conditions in spring are the two biggest drivers of stress at the moment.’’
Mr Bateup, a Waikato dairy farmer, said it was a good sign farmers were reaching out for help rather than trying to struggle through on their own.
‘‘It means people are recognising the Rural Support Trust is there to help. A lot more people are aware of what we do,’’ Mr Bateup said.
The trust is a nationwide voluntary organisation set up to help farmers and rural communities get through tough times. It is there for all rural people, including farm owners, farm staff and contractors.
The first point of call for the trust is a freephone number, 0800 787 254, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Facilitators help work out what support each caller needs.
‘‘We’re there to help people who don’t know where to turn or where to seek help. We can help them with any of the issues that cause stress for farmers – whether it’s personal, financial, workload, health, weather or anything else.
‘‘Often it’s just a matter of talking a problem over. Sharing a problem can halve a problem,’’ Mr Bateup said.
‘‘Sometimes facilitators will visit in person, if needed, and can help farmers connect with support agencies.’’
Lower payouts were a factor in the mix concerning farmers right now, Mr Bateup said, but it was too early in the season to predict what final payouts would be.
The trust handled all calls for help confidentially, Mr Bateup said.
The facilitators were people with life experience in agriculture – who understood what was needed on farms.
‘‘We have facilitators who are dairy farmers, meat and wool farmers, people with experience in all types of farming.
‘‘If anyone contacts us and shares their burdens, we can help them work through their problems.’’