Northern Ireland Livestock and Meat Commission (LMC) chief executive, Ian Stevenson, is highlighting the extremely important work that will be carried out by the ‘Life Beyond’ programme on behalf farming families across Northern Ireland during the period ahead.
Launched recently in partnership with Embrace Farm, the initiative will see Rural Support delivering a bespoke bereavement service to farming families across Northern Ireland.
Ian explained: “The new service has been designed to make a real and positive difference for farming families facing up to the challenge of a sudden death or unforeseen injury to the person who had previously been the main driver of the business.
“The service will have many facets. It will provide counselling support, technical advice and, when required, financial assistance to farm families in genuine need.
“Life Beyond will make a genuine difference at farm level and I welcome the tremendous support that has already been pledged for the new programme from so many stakeholder organisations operating within the farming and food sectors,” he added.
Stevenson has sat on the Rural Support board of trustees for the past two years.
He commented: “I am fully aware of the tremendous work that the organisation carries out. The ‘Life Beyond’ programme has been strongly championed by Ulster Farmers’ Union [UFU] president, Victor Chestnutt.
“And I would like to fully endorse the vision he has shown in bringing this vitally important initiative through to reality.”
The goal of the ‘Life Beyond’ programme is to provide a connected range of bereavement support services and activities for the farming community, with the aim of improving the mental, social and physical well-being of farm families who have been bereaved.
This will include those bereaved through farm accident, suicide, sudden or expected death.
The services will be provided at point of need and at no cost to the service user. The programme will include practical information and help for farm families who have been bereaved – in person, through events and via online platforms.
The programme will also provide business and financial mentoring to those families who need support in working through succession plans and/or challenging financial situations relating to the farm business.
Stevenson added: “The service on offer is very comprehensive in terms of its scope.
“Bereavement and serious injury are difficult enough challenges for most families to deal with emotionally, but when events of this nature also impact on families’ actual economic future, the difficulties faced are ramped up still further.”
LMC is not officially represented on the board of Rural Support. However, the commission said that it has always supported the work of the organisation.
“Rural Support provides a listening and signposting service for farmers and farming families across Northern Ireland through its helpline. It can also provide face to face support, help with sourcing information and advice about a wide range of issues,” Stevenson added.
Rural Support also runs a series of training workshops under the Princes’ Countryside Fund Resilience Programme and delivers ‘Coping with the Pressures of Farming’ under the College of Agriculture, Food and Rural Enterprise (CAFRE) Family Farm Key Skills Programme.