Locals to enrol in new FarmConnect programme

Minister of State Martin Heydon TD pictured with Programme Coordinator Clare Thoma at the recent launch of FarmConnect at Mahon Bridge, County Waterford. (Picture: Dylan Vaughan)

Well-known mental health advocate Liam Brazil is urging farmers in Waterford to take part in a free new health and wellbeing programme designed especially for those working in the sector.

Factoring in the long spell of fine weather, the programme’s new Waterford start date is Tuesday, 18th October, with those signing up having a choice of two venues – The Park Hotel, Dungarvan or the Multi-Education Centre in Dunhill Ecopark.

Supporting the FarmConnect pilot initiative, Liam Brazil has been a champion of mental health and wellbeing initiatives over many years. The Comeragh area councillor’s campaigning work on suicide awareness has made him one of the most respected voices in the county when it comes to highlighting this subject.

Dealing with farmers every day through his work as an agribusiness branch manager, Cllr Brazil feels it has never been more important for individual farmers and rural communities to pay attention to their mental health, wellbeing and safety.

“With costs and pressures soaring, keeping everything in balance is an increasingly difficult task and it can take its toll on people’s health and state of mind,” the Graun, Kilmacthomas man says.

Recently launched at Mahon Bridge in the Comeragh foothills by Junior Agriculture Minister Martin Heydon – who cited “an inextricable link between the physical and mental wellbeing of farmers and farm safety” – FarmConnect is already up and running in Roscommon, with very positive feedback. The two pilot counties were selected because of their contrasting agri-profiles.

With a Programme focus on the physical and mental impact that everyday farming challenges can have, Waterford farmer feedback is central to the pilot which highlights the connection between farmer health and wellbeing, and farm safety outcomes.

Looking after your body and mind often go hand in hand and the Programme aims to give farmers the tools to live and work productively and safely – including coping with stress.

Skilled and experienced facilitators have been trained to deliver the innovative Programme to groups of up to sixteen people over six two-hour sessions, providing expert inputs about wellbeing, stress management, nutrition, mental health awareness, sleep, and more. Women as well as men are welcome and all participants will receive a €150 One4All Gift Voucher on completing the Programme.

Having met Cllr Brazil in Durrow last week to discuss FarmConnect’s aims, Coordinator Clare Thoma – who oversees FarmConnect for lead partner, Waterford-based Men’s Development Network – is delighted to have received his endorsement.

“There’s no better person to champion this initiative on the ground given Liam’s commitment to raising the importance of wellbeing and his knowledge of the farming community in Waterford,” she says.

The pilot 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.

For registration and information, visit www.farmconnect.ie, contact Liam Brazil directly or Clare Thoma on 086-8167798 and clare@mensnetwork.ie.