Stick together

Check on your neighbours and have a break off the farm – that’s the message from Farmstrong to Southland farmers and communities impacted by recent floods. 

“This can be a stressful and tiring time for some farmers and their workers as the full impact of the flooding becomes apparent and the clean-up continues,” says Farmstrong’s Gerard Vaughan.

“While repairing fences and clearing up flood damage is obviously a priority, it’s really important we don’t forget about the people.”

Even though the rain’s stopped and the initial fear of floodwaters has gone somewhat there remains a real need to connect with friends and neighbours. Doing this can play a big role in helping rural communities get back on their feet more quickly.

“When people are under pressure the things that go out the window are often the things that keep us well, like eating well, getting enough sleep, taking short breaks to recharge and socialising with others. These are the things that actually help us cope and get through these events more easily.”

Farmstrong, a nationwide, rural wellbeing initiative, was launched in 2015 to help farmers, their families and farm workers develop habits to improve their wellbeing.

“One of our main messages is that people with strong social connections are healthier and more resilient. These connections are even more important when we are under pressure. Catching up with friends and neighbours is a great way of countering unhealthy stress.”

“While focusing on your own property will always be top of mind, give some thought also to your neighbours. Stop by and drop in for a coffee – particularly if you haven’t seen them for a while”.

Vaughan encouraged farmers feeling ‘under the pump’ not to bottle things up. “We need to remind each other that it’s ok to ask for help. Others have been there before and everyone needs support from time to time.

“If you’re feeling overwhelmed pick up the phone and contact the Rural Support Trust (0800 787 254) or the Need to Talk Helpline on 1737.”

“A weather event like this can be a very worrying time. That’s why you’ve got to set aside time to look after yourself and your neighbours, as well as clear debris and fix fences. After all, the farm’s number one asset is still the farmer.”

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