John was employed with Northern Bank (now Danske Bank) for almost 40 years. John held positions of Branch Manager and Senior Agri Manager. John is Director of Antrim Enterprise Agency and is Chairman of Ballymena United Football Club.
Why did you decide to get involved with Rural Support and what does your role as a mentor entail?
‘Having worked closely with rural dwellers for some 13 years, the role as Finance Mentor with Rural Support really interested me. I felt that I had something to offer and I felt I could use my experience to help others. The role involves listening, evaluating, signposting, discussion and developing a workable and realistic plan in the hope of finding a way forward. All discussions are completely confidential’
What sort of situations have you encountered during your time as a mentor so far? What are the main issues and barriers facing your clients?
‘Each case is unique and can be very different to the next one. Issues discussed have varied from difficulties around reduced farm incomes, farm succession & inheritance planning.’
For anyone considering contacting Rural Support to avail of mentoring can you tell me about the mentoring process and what is involved?
‘Initially, the farmer makes contact with Rural Support through the helpline. If Rural Support decide that one-to-one support in relation to debt or financial management is necessary then they will introduce the mentor who in turn will contact the farmer to arrange an appointment to call. The mentor will meet with the farmer and any other individuals which they would like to be involved in the process. The process involves open discussions around personal and financial circumstances which will be totally confidential. If necessary and with the individual’s permission they will be signposted to other organisations who may also be able to provide additional help and support.’
How do you feel the finance mentoring process is helping individuals?
‘The support provides the individual with the opportunity to discuss any issues or problems in a confidential and non-judgemental environment. Through discussion of circumstances and concerns, workable solutions are provided which will hopefully help to reduce the level of stress.’
What would you say to someone who is experiencing farm finance or debt worries?
‘I would encourage anyone who is experiencing worry or stress regarding any issues concerning the farm business to lift the phone and speak to the team at Rural Support. Help is at hand.’
What issues do you think farming families will face in the future? What can be done to minimise financial problems?
‘Farm income is cyclical and as such financial problems often arise. Early identification of potential problems with workable planning can often avoid or reduce stress.’
Sincere thanks to John Taggart for this interview.
If you or someone you know could benefit from talking with someone from Rural Support or if you would like to avail of the financial mentoring currently being offered please contact Rural Support’s helpline (0800 138 1678, 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday). All calls are confidential.