Farming is a rewarding yet dangerous and isolating occupation, that goes without saying when you work in some of the most rural parts of Ireland, writes Catherine Collins, Embrace FARM Business Development Manager.
The average number of farm fatalities in Ireland each year is 18 in every 100,000 people. 10% of farm deaths are children and 43% of deaths are farmers over the age of 65 years. Yet behind each death, there is a story. There is a family that is grieving for someone they have lost, a neighbour who has lost a friend and a community that has lost someone that would have been the backbone to the area.
Embrace FARM supports all those affected by farm accidents. Working with Embrace FARM involves supporting people who have been affected by bereavement or those who have survived a farm accident suffering a serious injury.
The main part of the work is to create awareness for people to show that they are not alone. This is done through specific events, social and print media campaigns and interaction with the wider Agri Sector.
For supporting those who are bereaved, people contact us first. They can pick up the phone and call us 7 days-a-week. Sometimes a person contacts not wondering why they are calling, but more in the fact they might learn something or receive some reassurance that they are not going through their pain alone.
Conversations help people both on emotional and practical ways. Questions we receive can be about the inquest to a farm death, the health and safety authority investigation, how to cope with family members and so on. These conversations are completely confidential and handled by the small team that works at Embrace FARM itself.
Annually, the ecumenical remembrance service is a space where people can come to remember a life lost in a farming accident. Coming up to this event, Embrace FARM is in contact with over 150 families throughout Ireland. Families are invited to attend and the name of their loved one is read out during the service. Residential counselling weekends, information days and support groups are also run throughout the year for the survivors and the bereaved.
There are many issues faced by farm accident survivors, practical issues to help people rehabilitate after an accident, emotional support and mental health issues. Working with Embrace FARM means we advocate on behalf of these people in our network. The quarterly run support group is a safe space for survivors to open-up about how they are coping with their new reality.
Throughout 2020, my work will be keeping in contact with the group and putting together a list of issues which Embrace FARM can lobby for on their behalf to the relative government departments and representatives.
Like any of the 10,000 charities and community groups operating in Ireland, Embrace FARM must be compliance to the Charities’ Regulator to maintain its CHY status. Part of my role is to oversee the governance of the charity. Working with the board of directors and the head of finance and administration to ensure the transparency on how funds raised are accounted for, reported and publicised.
Working with Embrace FARM has taught me so much and every day you are always learning. Having worked in the not-for-profit sector for over 7 years and being a certified life and business coach, working with Embrace FARM has combined my love of all things rural and my passion for working in the charity sector.
Don't suffer in silence
In the first instance, it has taught me how one sudden moment can change the outcome of your life in an instant. The fallout from an accident can affect not just the person who has passed away or who is injured, but their immediate family, neighbours and the wider community.
Secondly, it has taught me compassion for a sector of the country that undergoes constant scrutiny and compliance. The pressures of farming are so great, that stress is one of the many factors affecting every farmer on different levels.
In a nutshell, my work with Embrace FARM is about keeping the charity going on a day-to-day level as well as keeping the focus on the bigger picture for the organisation. From my experience of working here for the past two years, I recommend for people to reach out to get support if they feel they can’t cope by themselves. Don’t suffer in silence.