Rural Support Showcase at Balmoral

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Rural Support Showcase at Balmoral

Rural Support Showcase at Balmoral

September 17, 2021 Victoria Ross

Services and Programmes Designed by Farmers for Farmers

Recently Rural Support conducted an extensive survey of farmers and farm workers with almost 500 head of holdings and farm family workers responding. The results from this survey highlighted the overwhelming need to address the root cause of stressors for farmers and farm families that are impacting on their emotional wellbeing, and on the ability of the sector to develop resilience considering an ever-changing market environment.

Based on the findings, and alongside a refocused strategy placing the farmer and the farming family at the centre of its activities, the organisation has developed a unique and expanded range of programmes and services to help farming families develop a sustainable farm business and for farm family members to create healthy and productive lives. 

At Balmoral this year the organisation and its team is focusing its efforts on connecting with as many farmers and farming families as possible to spread the word about its services and programmes, specifically tailored to support all members of the farming family.

Rural Support will have two stands – one in partnership with the Farm Family Health Check’s team at C7 – and one promoting Social Farming in the Horticulture Pavilion.

In the spotlight for launch on day one at the C7 stand is the new Plough On project which aims to tackle rural isolation and increase social opportunities for older male farmers. Funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, Plough On activities will include a range of educational, learning and reminiscence opportunities – events, projects and outings – encouraging older men to connect on areas of shared interest such as farming, rural heritage and history.

This is a 5-year programme (2021-2026) which will be delivered in 17 rural communities across 4 HSC Trust areas. October of this year will see programmes available in Belcoo, Plumbridge, Kilrea, Glenarm, Lisnacree and Kircubbin. More information can be found by emailing Keelin at

Plough On is the second new project starting in under a month for Rural Support, following a successful launch of the Life Beyond Programme in partnership with Embrace FARM, which provides bereavement and loss support services, that was launched by Minister Poots and Minister Swann on 26th August at the Eikon Centre.

The Life Beyond Programme has been selected Ulster Farmers’ Union President, Victor Chestnutt, as his Charity Project of the Year and will be promoted at the UFU stand at the show.

Moving to the Horticulture Pavilion there is a focus on the Northern Ireland Social Farming Support Service. Social Farming is a service delivered by farmers, providing the opportunity for individuals with support needs to get involved in farming in a supportive way.

Activities are structured, meaningful, and seasonal, and with horticulture featuring across all farms offering Social Farming in Northern Ireland, both in terms of food production and the healing power of nature, the stand within the Healthy Horticulture section at Balmoral is the perfect opportunity to showcase the positive effect both horticulture and Social Farming have on participants and farmers.

The Rural Support team looks forward to getting out and about again and engaging with as many people as possible so if you are at the show and see one of the team stop and say hello.

If you can’t make Balmoral but wish to learn more about the organisation’s range of services and programmes, all of which are free of charge, visit the Farm Support Hub on

The team can also be contacted via the Support Line which is available 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday (voicemail and options available at all other times), call free on 0800 138 1678.


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