Rural Support Trust and Adverse Weather
Wrap-around services help build resilience for coping with business and life stressors
By James Smith
Growers facing tough times are urged to reach out for support at the first signs of trouble in order to strengthen their resilience and build mental toughness.
That’s the advice from the Bay of Plenty Rural Support Trust following a powerful storm that decimated local orchards, leaving many people on tenterhooks waiting to find out how badly their businesses had been affected.
Jodie Craig, the trust’s local coordinator/administrator, was one of the speakers at a special meeting for orchard owners from Opotiki and the Eastern Bay of Plenty. Representatives from other support agencies were also on hand to provide assistance and offer pastoral care.
Jodie was particularly touched by the empathetic support from regional representatives of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. “They showed a high level of concern for those affected by this devastating event,” she says. “It was very apparent the caring and close relationship the grower reps have with their respective growers and the level of engagement by Zespri, Seeka, Eastpack/Prospa, and Riverlock.”
One grower had 95 percent of his orchard affected by storm damage when winds, estimated to have reached 150km/h, lashed the region.
Support services are confidential and advice is freely available whatever the issue, wherever you are, says Jodie. People can tap into various channels, such as the Rural Support Trust and Farmstrong, a nationwide wellbeing programme for the rural community.
“Often in the primary industry, people live onsite. They look out their window and see the problem staring back at them,” she says.
“Rural Support Trust is there to support rural individuals and communities get back on their feet, whether it’s from extreme weather events, biosecurity, financial, animal welfare, or personal challenges.”
Jodie says whatever the difficulty, it was imperative people sought help early. “We pretty much never get people with one issue. People come to us because there are several compounding issues.
“Financial, sickness, relationship problems, and a lot of employment issues. There’s always a lot of things on someone’s plate. And then often something quite small comes along to tip that over and suddenly they can’t cope.”
She says many people wrongly adopt a “she’ll be right” attitude when problems arise, thus avoid dealing with issues head on. “If they leave it too long it’s harder to get back on track. Getting support early is the way and to understand it’s perfectly normal to reach out.”
Adopting a positive mindset is essential when life throws a curveball, she says. “Focus on what you can control – rather than what you cannot.”
Everyone has different levels of what they can cope with – but whatever the problem it was important not to bottle up worries, she advises.
Connecting with others and taking time out of your day was a key part of maintaining good mental health, she says. “Share your thoughts and concerns with friends, family, and others who might have gone through what you are facing. But ensure that those you confide in are not judgmental.”
Taking regular breaks in a busy working day can be a tonic and help maintain a person’s wellbeing, says Jodie. “Make sure you have some time out for yourself. Do whatever makes you happy. It could be as simple as taking the dog for a walk.”
The Rural Support Trust’s 0800 helpline is overseen by experienced facilitators who will help choose the right person to assist in resolving the challenge at hand. Facilitators are rural people with local knowledge and experience. They will travel to where they are needed, contact is one-on-one at a place that suits the individual, services are free and confidential.
For support and advice contact the Rural Support Trust on 0800 787 254 or go to www.rural-support.org.nz For Farmstrong, go to: https://farmstrong.co.nz/