Local NI charity Rural Support, in partnership with Laois-based Embrace FARM, have launched “Life Beyond”, a new programme designed to deliver bereavement services for the farming community in NI.

The need for a service similar to that provided by Embrace FARM in the Republic of Ireland was initially suggested by UFU President Victor Chestnutt, and it is his chosen charity for his presidential term.

He is now part of a steering group that also includes representatives from ABP Food Group, who have provided some start-up funding for the project.

Launching Life Beyond as part of the UFU Women in Agriculture conference last Wednesday, Veronica Morris from Rural Support explained that it will be there to “help people face the unfaceable”.

Support will be provided free of charge, over a 12-month period (or longer if needed) to any farm family bereaved due to a farm accident, suicide, sudden or expected death, and tailored to suit individual circumstances, explained Morris.

The principle is that the support is delivered in two phases.

We will also provide a number of events and seminars, and we will have online resources

Initially bereaved families will receive one-to-one help potentially addressing practical or financial issues on the farm. Alongside that there will be counselling support, and beyond that, one-to-one bereavement support.

Once through the first phase, there is then the offer of peer-to-peer group activity where people can share experiences with others who have faced similar challenges.

“We will also provide a number of events and seminars, and we will have online resources. All support will be provided at the point of need. Our aim is to improve the mental, social and physical wellbeing of farming families who have been bereaved,” said Morris.

Anyone who would like to make a donation to help with the work of Life Beyond can follow the Just Giving link.

The Rural Support helpline number is 0800 138 1678.

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