A new Embrace FARM programme titled Encircle has been launched, which will pair those coping with a farm fatality or a serious farm injury with the professional best suited to their support needs on a one-to-one basis.

Encircle will see a nationwide panel established of the various professionals those coping with a farm incident may need in being supported through the aftermath.

The programme has been developed by an operational group representing different elements of the farming community.

Encircle is funded by the Department of Agriculture through the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) initiative.

Invaluable support

Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture Martin Heydon welcomed the programme’s launch, commenting that the EIP would bring invaluable support to those affected by farm tragedies.

“This European Innovation Partnership - one of eight being funded by my Department in the area of farmer safety, health and wellbeing - will enable Embrace FARM to build on that work,” said Minister Heydon.

“As we are all unfortunately too aware, a farm tragedy can present a range of potential issues for families. That is why I have no doubt the one-to-one tailored support will be invaluable to those who need it.”

Supporting families

The minister recognised that the programme will facilitate families in accessing the full complement of professional help they may require when coping with a farm incident.

“As we continue to work on improving farm safety and reduce the number of serious and fatal incidents on Irish farms, it is equally important that families affected by sudden traumas are supported,” Minister Heydon reminded farmers.

The Encircle programme will offer supports to farmers and farm families all over the country

He also recognised the work done by Embrace FARM in assisting farm families with loss.

“Embrace FARM has for many years played a crucial role for many Irish farm families in the aftermath of fatal or life-changing incidents.

“The Encircle programme will offer supports to farmers and farm families all over the country through a nationwide panel of professional mentors encompassing the full spectrum of legal, financial, agricultural and emotional issues that individuals and families contend with in the aftermath of these sudden situations.

“The programme has been developed by a dedicated operational group, which is led by Embrace FARM, and the programme supports are informed by industry specialists including ifac, agricultural solicitors, the Agricultural Consultants Association, Rural Support and the HSE National Office of Suicide Prevention,” the minister concluded.

Finding the best help

The plan will match those affected by farm fatalities or a suspected suicide with the professional best suited to their specific needs, according to the general manager and co-founder of Embrace FARM Norma Rohan.

These needs may be legal, emotional or financial, depending on the circumstances surrounding each case, she explained.

“Our panel of mentors have been carefully selected in order to cater to the many complex issues facing families and individuals who have been impacted in the aftermath of a farm accident or suspected suicide,” said Rohan.

“Once someone contacts us, we will work with them to figure out what they need and in what order of priority and from there we will match them with the right professional mentors who can support them where they need help the most, whether it be legal, emotional, financial or general support with the overall operation of a farming business,” she said.

Assisting families

Embrace FARM co-founder Brian Rohan recounted his experience of a farming tragedy involving his father.

“There were hundreds of people here over the weekend of the funeral and then they stopped calling and we were left to ourselves to run the farm. There was no mention of Dad,” recalled Brian.

“People kind of got back to their own lives and forgot about him, so we wanted to find a way to remember our loved ones killed in farm accidents.

“We got calls and emails from other families all over the country and some of them were in worse states than others, with no wills in place or mortgages on farms and no life cover, that type of thing. We couldn’t just sit by and do nothing,” he said.

The charity has assisted more than 285 farm families since the accident in coping with the aftermath of farm fatalities or serious injuries.

Embrace FARM reminded rural communities that its yearly remembrance event – an ecumenical remembrance service – will take place in Abbeyleix, Co Laois, on Sunday 26 June this year.