Helpline awareness drive welcomed

Kerri Hughes from Rural Support.
Kerri Hughes from Rural Support.

Helplines in Northern Ireland responded to over half a million queries from people with a range of issues and concerns last year.

Helplines Network NI revealed this statistic earlier this week in a bid to raise awareness of support available across the region at the launch of the second Northern Ireland Helplines Awareness Day at Belfast City Hall.

Local charity Rural Support, a member of the Helplines Network NI attended the event and welcomed the Network’s efforts to highlight the vital support, advice and information available to the public across Northern Ireland.

This comes as Rural Support gears up for its busiest time of the year with an increased number of calls expected to be made to its helpline this February, due to recent prolonged wet and snowy weather, TB outbreaks, threats of funding cuts and increasing farming costs.

Rural Support Chief Executive, Jude McCann said: “We are delighted to take part in today’s event which puts the vital work of various helplines across Northern Ireland in the spotlight.

“ Events like this are so important as they raise awareness of the help and support available to people, reassuring them that there is someone to talk to and they don’t have go through tough times alone.

“The last few months have been particularly difficult for our sector, as local farmers struggle to cope with the impacts of adverse weather conditions, which in many cases has led to financial strain on the business.

“Our message to farmers and farming families today is that help is at hand and Rural Support services can be readily accessed through our helpline.”

Since 2002, Rural Support has been helping farming and rural families across Northern Ireland with a wide range of issues from finance and debt, succession planning concerns, physical and mental health problems, farming paperwork, technical and enterprise issues.

Rural Support’s trained staff, volunteers and highly experienced mentors provide support both face-to-face or via the confidential helpline. 

The charity can help to analyse current farm business positions, identify options and explore possible ways forward. 

Jude added: “With this focus on the great work all helplines do in Northern Ireland, I encourage you to contact the Rural Support helpline on 0845 606 7607 if you require any assistance or are experiencing a challenging period on the farm. Doing this as early as possible provides more favourable options to be explored.”

For more information on Rural Support and their services visit: www.ruralsupport.org.uk

Rural Support was formed in 2002 following the Foot and Mouth epidemic which had a severe impact on farmers and on the rural community in Northern Ireland.

It deals with a range of issues including emotional distress, suicide risk, physical and mental health, farming paperwork and bureaucracy.

Helpline: 0845 606 7607, Website: www.ruralsupport.org.uk and Twitter: @ruralsupport