Rural trust there for anyone having ‘tough time’

Help is only a call away.

Otago Rural Support Trust chairman Mike Lord, of Outram, said if anyone in Otago’s rural community needed help — or knew of anyone who needed help — they could call the trust.

People called for a "range of reasons" such as financial stress, the impact of adverse weather such as flooding, snow, or drought or any other type of "tough time".

"I have no doubt we make a difference."

After Covid hit, a "desperate" farmer called because he had stock and a lack of feed due to meat works taking fewer animals as it dealt with new protocols.

The trust made some calls and the stock was moved to a lush paddock until the animals could be taken to the meat works.

"There is benefit in sharing information ... A problem shared is a problem halved."

Sometimes a stock agent or a rural banker would inform the trust about a concern they had for a person.

The trust would help the person by providing support and connecting them to services to help them navigate the tough time.

"It’s making sure you’re going to the right people for advice."

Sometimes a chat with a trust co-ordinator helped a farmer "refocus".

Changes in farming regulations — such as the introduction of the Government’s new freshwater rules — could "trigger a wave" of calls, he said.

"They can put a lot of stress on farmers."

Most of the funding for the not-for-profit organisation was from the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The rest was from sponsorship and donations, he said.

Some of the biggest donations given to the trust were from people who had used the free and confidential service.

"A few years later — when they’re at a good point — they’re making donations."

The money helped pay the wages of administrator Andrea Ludemann and two co-ordinators — Pat Macaulay and Lindsay Purvis.

The trust was launched in the early 1980s in response to the Maniototo being hit by drought.

After he finished his position as Otago Federated Farmers president in about 2013 he was invited to become a trust member.

"It seemed an appropriate step to take."

Coincidentally, when he started, the trust held a meeting in the drought-stricken Maniototo.

"When we went up there they got 20mm of rain. So it was almost a drought-breaker by holding the meeting — there were happy farmers that day."

Mr Lord has been trust chairman for the past two years.

The events the trust held — such as drought shouts — could help "reset the compass" of a farmer battling tough conditions, he said.

"We are making people aware they are not the only one in that boat ... That in itself can give people strength."

Call the trust on 0800 RURAL HELP (0800 787-254).

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