The Northern Health and Social Care Trust in partnership with Ulster Farmers’ Union, Rural Support, Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland and the Farm Families Health Check Programme have successfully delivered another ‘Focus on the Farm Family’ programme in Larne Market Yard.
Thirty people from families in the Larne area registered for this free innovative health, wellbeing and safety initiative that ran from September 2016 to February 2017.
The lunchtime programme aimed to increase knowledge around a number of key issues, including mental health promotion, farm safety, healthy eating, cancer awareness and dealing with medical emergencies on the farm.
It also facilitated discussion around these issues and the evaluation indicated that participants felt well informed and better able to make changes to their lifestyle/farm practices where necessary. An important part of the programme was offering a free check to participants at the beginning and end of the programme. Increasing social inclusion and reducing the risk of social isolation was another key aim of the ‘Focus on the Farm Family’ programme.
Yvonne Carson, Senior Health Promotion Officer from the Northern Trust’s Health and Wellbeing Team, commented: “We are delighted that the programme just ended in Larne has been very well received by the local farming community. The six month timeframe gave participants the opportunity to consolidate the knowledge gained and it also provided the opportunity for farm families to come together socially which is very important in rural areas.”
Commenting on its success, UFU deputy president Ivor Ferguson said: “I am pleased to see that the programme has received such positive feedback with participants recommending it to other farm families. The programme was initially piloted in Glenravel, outside Ballymena and has also been a success in the townland of Tirgan and more recently in the Larne area.”
Following completion of the health checks programme, it was clear to see that it had a positive impact on the individuals that participated. One hundred per cent of participants (100%) felt that other farm families would benefit from a similar programme with 86% saying they learnt something new as a result of attending and 71% stated they had made a change to their lifestyle/farm practice. Ninety five per cent (95%) commented on the importance of the social aspect of the programme. Mr Ferguson continued: “With feedback like this, the UFU would be encouraging that this programme be replicated across other farming communities within Northern Ireland so that they are given the opportunity to participate in this programme in the near future.”