Fun off-farm keeps wellbeing in balance

Waimakariri Young Farmers Club treasurer Kaitlyn Corpe (left) and chairman Jeremy Madeley pose...
Waimakariri Young Farmers Club treasurer Kaitlyn Corpe (left) and chairman Jeremy Madeley pose with a friend, "Charlie'', at the club's ball earlier this year. Photo: Waimakariri Young Farmers Club.
Having fun off-farm is proving to be the right tonic for Waimakariri young farmers to improve their wellbeing.

Waimakariri Young Farmers Club chairman Jeremy Madeley said mental health was a serious issue for young farmers, but connecting with others and checking up on your mates made a difference.

His club started organising monthly ''funtivities'' nearly two years ago, to help address wellbeing concerns and to give members some ''value for their membership''.

''One of our members came up with the phrase 'funtivities' for fun activities and we pretty much just flicked it back to the members and said 'what do you guys want to do'?

''Now we're getting through the list, so we probably need to go back and do it again.''

The club holds monthly meetings on the first Wednesday of the month and ''funtivities'' on the third week.

''Whether it's a weekend activity or an evening, we make sure we do something every month,'' he said

Activities so far have included clay target shooting, movies, tenpin bowling, paintball, an escape room activity and karting.

This month they plan to do canvas painting in a paddock and paint a landscape or a model and have a barbecue.

Mr Madeley, who has worked as a dairy farm manager, said the club had 33 members and most ''funtivities'' attracted 20 to 25 or more members, though he had noticed a drop-off in the last two months.

''Since calving, the last two months' attendances have dropped right back to 10 to 15 people, so it shows that when the pressure comes on people pull back and stay on-farm.

''When the pressure comes on and people start to feel the pain we need to keep an eye on them and make sure they're getting enough sleep and eating right.''

Through organising the ''funtivities'' Mr Madeley said he had been able to build a rapport with members, so he was able to call them for chat when they missed a meeting to make sure everything was all right.

''I like to think of mental health as being like a bank account. If you lose sleep or you're in a stressful job it's like a withdrawal, so you don't want to be in overdraft.

''Whereas a 'funtivity' is a way to make a deposit.''

-By David Hill


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