Farmers in Roscommon are being invited to sign up for a free health and wellbeing programme aimed at providing them with the tools to live and work productively and safely.
The new 6-week KT programme, developed especially for FarmConnect, is being rolled out in the counties of Roscommon and Waterford on a pilot basis, with the expectation that this will be become a national programme.
FarmConnect is a European Innovation Partnership (EIP-Agri) project, funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine and the EU’s Rural Development Programme. It is focused on the physical and mental impact that contemporary farming challenges are having in Ireland.
Project partners include Men’s Development Network (lead partner), Teagasc, Mental Health Ireland, University of Limerick, South East Technological University, the Irish Co-operative Organisation Society, farm advisors, agricultural researchers, agricultural consultants, agri-education specialists, and farmer representatives.
The innovative Programme was developed with a new approach to farm safety in mind: making the connection between higher levels of personal health and wellbeing and lower accident rates.
After extensive planning, the Programme’s rollout began in Roscommon on Monday, September 19th, at two venues: Keadue and Rathcroghan. The Waterford Programme commenced on Tuesday, October 18th, in Dunhill and Dungarvan.
Feedback so far has been very positive and new programmes in both counties will commence in mid-January 2023.
Waterford and Roscommon were selected for the pilot due to their contrasting Agri profiles and the input of local farming representatives.
The aim is to recruit 64 farmers in each county to participate in the six-week programme — with the promise that they will be better, literally, for the FarmConnect experience. Skilled and experienced facilitators from the Agriculture Advisor and Community Development sectors have been trained to deliver the Programme in group settings.
Speaking at FarmConnect’s official launch in County Waterford on September 1st, Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture with responsibility for Farm Safety, Martin Heydon TD, said: “There is an inextricable link between the physical and mental wellbeing of farmers and farm safety.
“If a farmer feels run down or has a distracted mind, then their full focus cannot be on the task at hand. This can lead to near-misses, and the more near misses there are the greater the chance of a fatal or life changing incident,” he added.
The overall objective behind FarmConnect is to improve farmers’ decision-making around their individual health and wellbeing. By putting their own welfare first, they can make a safer, more sustainable living for themselves and their families.
With an estimated 2,500 incidents reported annually on farms, the programme’s aim is to take a fresh approach to farm safety.
Programme Coordinator Clare Thoma said “Small, practical, positive changes that improve a farmer’s personal wellbeing also have positive outcomes for farm safety and productivity, so we deem it a win-win situation.”
She added “Scientific and academic studies have highlighted serious concerns about Irish farmer ill-health and occupational injury. Recent research shows that Irish farmers are seven times more likely to die from heart disease than salaried workers. This is just one example of how farmers’ health can be adversely affected by their way of life.”
While it does require a level of commitment, albeit a total of just 12 hours or half a day, each unit will offer lots of worthwhile add-ons, including expert inputs about nutrition, stress management, mental health awareness, sleep, and more.
Interested persons in either region can register now or get more information (including dates and venues) via this LINK..
Or you can do so by contacting Clare Thoma, FarmConnect Programme Co-ordinator, on 086-8167798 or email [email protected].