Help at hand for farmers

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Andy Munro
Andy Munro
Help is just a phone call away for farmers feeling the pressure.

North Canterbury Rural Support Trust chairman Andy Munro says there are a range of pressures on farmers, including the ongoing effects of the Mycoplasma bovis outbreak, and new water quality and environmental legislation.

''There's just a feeling that everybody seems to be against farmers and it's all adding up.

''Farmers are concerned about what's happening to the environment, but they're also concerned that they're not being listened to, so there's a lot of anxiety out there.

''But we're getting into spring, which brings brighter weather.

''Spring growth seems to be pretty slow around the area, but once we get some more fine weather it will be away.''

Trust co-ordinator Claire Ford says she receives on average two phone calls a week through the 0800 helpline.

''They've got pressures coming from every which direction, so it's not easy for people out there,'' she says.

''If people just want to have a chat, even if it's for half an hour, I'm happy to do that and we can refer them for further help if required.''

The rural support trust has volunteer facilitators, with basic mental health training, throughout the North Canterbury region, which covers from Rakaia River to Kaikoura. They can pop in for ''a cuppa and a chat'', Mrs Ford says.

''We can be a listening ear to their problems and if we can help with one problem, even better. We're not trained counsellors, but we can point them in the right direction where needed.

''They are all farmers or retired farmers and they've been through hard times themselves, so they know what you are going through - they get it.''

Mr Munro says it has been a busy time for the trust as it looks to extend its reach to support West Coast farmers in the M.bovis response.

The North Canterbury Rural Support Trust is offering four first-aid courses during November and December, in partnership with the North Canterbury Farmers Charitable Trust, which is another chance for farmers to get off farm.

The workshops are in Rangiora on November 1, Kaikoura and Culverden, both on November 22, and in Dunsandel on December 6.

Numbers are limited, so contact Claire Ford by email on ncrst.coordinator@gmail.com or text/phone (027) 3849715.

To contact the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust, phone 0800 787254, go online to rural-support.org.nz, or follow the North Canterbury Rural Support Trust page on Facebook.

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