Five students studying their third year of Medicine at Queen’s University Belfast have visited Rural Support as part of their Rural Health module.
The module is offered in association with the Ulster Farmers’ Union (UFU) and aims to help future doctors understand the rural population in Northern Ireland and their particular healthcare needs.
In the morning the students got an overview of the work of Rural Support in the rural and farming community in Northern Ireland with particular focus on the helpline service and financial and business mentoring projects. The confidential, non-judgemental support offered by Rural Support is available for farmers and rural dwellers who are dealing with challenges and anyone experiencing stress is encouraged to phone the helpline on 0845 606 7 607.
Before visiting a farm in the afternoon, the students got to hear about the concept of social farming and how it can benefit both farmers and individuals in need of support through participation in farming activities. The students visited Butterlope Farm in Plumbridge, Co.Tyrone owned by Annie and Vincent Mullan, who along with farming their sheep enterprise deliver a social farming service two days a week.
On the farm the students got to meet and observe the individuals participating in the programme – that afternoon’s activity was tagging lambs for the mart – and hear from the farmers how they had started social farming. Through participating in the activities on the farm the individuals can achieve a LANTRA Level 1 qualification. The experience provided the students with a real life insight into the practicalities of social farming – what is involved, who can benefit, what is needed for future development – and highlighted the role farming can play in improving individuals’ health and lives.
If you are interested in becoming a social farmer, please contact the Social Farming Service Coordinator Aoibeann Walsh on 07736 158983 or 028 8676 0040 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org.