Rural isolation and loneliness are a growing concern within Northern Ireland, especially within our farming community. Family farms were traditionally passed from one generation to the next following the death of the older farmer but as we live longer, many farms are now transferred over within the current owner’s lifetime.
While this can bring benefits, it can also mean an increase in the number of older farmers facing social isolation, having a drastic effect on emotional and physical health, bringing with it a loss of independence and support.
Research undertaken by Rural Support within the farming community indicates that this isn’t a problem that is likely to go away with almost a third of respondents concerned about loneliness and isolation and over a third worried about the future.
To help address these concerns, Rural Support have developed a project called Plough On which aims to tackle rural isolation and increase social opportunities for older male farmers. Its core purpose is to improve mental and physical wellbeing through socialisation and participation in rural heritage/farming-based activities and excursions, encouraging individuals to get and stay well – physically and emotionally.
Activities 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. Participants are involved from the outset in the design and delivery of activities, ensuring that the programme develops in a way that meets their needs and interests.
Improved health and wellbeing for older men also positively helps other farm family members in terms of respite, provides opportunities for greater independence as well as improving mood.
We are currently inviting participants to join newly established groups in the following areas:
- Derrynoose (just outside Keady)
- Coagh (outside Cookstown)
- Glack (near Limavady town)
We are also interested in hearing from people who would like to volunteer with a Plough On group, particularly in the following areas:
- Hilltown & Rathfriland
For further details on what is involved in the volunteer role, please click here.
If you are interested in participating in this programme, or have any queries, please get in touch with Keelin on 028 8676 0040 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Cohort 1 (GREEN)
- 5.Hilltown & Rathfriland
Cohort 2 (BLUE)
- 10.Glack (near Limavady town)
Cohort 3 (RED)
- 16.The Grange