Rural Support Trust: Watch out for warning signs

This article is taken from the Spring 2022 edition of Avoscene magazine. 

The Rural Support Trust is a nationwide network offering free and confidential support to those who earn their income from the land and support is available to business owners, full-time and part-time workers and their families.

Each of the 14 Rural Support Regions has a dedicated team with a range of experience. When someone contacts the Rural Support Trust for assistance, they will talk with someone who has a good understanding of rural life. If support is required, a suitable facilitator will be agreed upon. Support can be provided face-to-face or over the phone. A facilitator can travel to where they are needed, at a time that suits. Members of the Rural Support Trust team have a good understanding of the various primary sectors; many are or have had active roles in the sector, so they really appreciate how challenging it can be at times.

The Rural Support Trust understands that every situation is different, so Rural Support are available to walk alongside someone and help put an individualised plan together to get the support needed to help with whatever is causing the pressure. This may be simply listening, having a cuppa and chat, or it may involve pulling in extra professional support to help.

Whether it be a horticultural issue or a personal matter, whatever is causing the stress, the important thing is to remember is that the Rural Support Trust is only a phone call away and if they cannot offer help, they can offer direction to someone who can. Rural Support Trust are also well connected with their Rural Advisory and Civil Defence groups. So in times of adversity, they play a lead role in supporting all primary producers. This may include help during or following an adverse weather event.

Warning signs growers should look out for in themselves and others

If you’re a grower, or have interactions with a grower, here are some signs to watch out for in others, or yourself. These signs might include:

  • Changes in the orchard environment e.g. usually tidy and mowed but now mess is an issue; paperwork not done to the usual standard.
  • More disconnected or withdrawn, lack of enjoyment of usual interests.
  • Taking more risks e.g. not following health & safety, careless driving, substance abuse.
  • Expressing a sense of sadness, despair, emptiness or hopelessness.
  • Increased fear, anxiety, anger or irritability.
  • Difficulty remembering, concentrating or following instructions.
  • Changes in communication ability including, for example, hesitation, silence and broken sentences.
  • Being unavailable, denying and avoiding.

 What to do/where to go

  • Ask questions that show you really want to understand what’s going on and how you can help them. For example: “Have you talked to anyone else about this?” or “What can I do to help you with this?”
  • Show empathy without trying to solve all the problems.
  • Don’t be afraid of silence – they may need time to reflect.
  • Encourage them to come up with their own ideas on things that may help, such as talking to a trusted friend or visiting their GP.
  • Sometimes a good option is to make a referral to support agencies like Rural Support or their GP.

Get in touch by calling 0800 787 251 (0800 RURAL HELP) or visit the website for more information:



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