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Rural Support

Providing bespoke emotional and personal support

Rural Support was established in response to the emotional trauma experienced by the farming and rural community in the aftermath of the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in the early 2000’s.

The mental anguish caused by the destruction of animals, together with the devastating financial impact, highlighted the need for a service which offered specific emotional and personal support.

Crisis Support

Initially Rural Support established a Helpline for distressed farmers and their families offering essential, crisis services through a reactive and speedy response at the point of need. The types of issues addressed include emotional distress, suicide risk, financial problems, inheritance issues, physical and mental health worries, farming paperwork and bureaucracy.

In 2020, the Helpline saw a threefold increase in calls as the Covid 19 pandemic created a sense of fear and distress as well as added isolation and loneliness for people in rural and farming communities.

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Clear, impartial advice and support

In more recent years Rural Support has extended its services to include one-to-one business, financial and technical mentoring. The mentoring service works in conjunction with the Helpline Service and provides immediate, tailored follow-up support to those in crisis. Its services are generally reactive and focused on sorting out the immediate crisis/problem whether that be related to the farm business; financial issues; family issues; succession; and/or emotional health.

The mentoring service aims to engage the whole farm family and can be enriched by small grants of financial assistance to alleviate exceptional financial difficulties.

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Rural Support’s vision is of a vibrant, healthy and resilient farming community in Northern Ireland

Providing a timely and effective response

During 2019-20, on-farm Mentoring Support was provided to 166 individuals, primarily male and in the 45+ age group. For three quarters of these clients, the call to Rural Support was the first action they took to seek support for the difficulties they were experiencing.

Individuals supported by the mentoring service demonstrate an average improvement in their mental well-being of 58%. An independent evaluation of the mentoring service identified that the social return on investment in the service is £13.88 for every £1 spent.

Rural Support

Engages with


farmers, farm businesses & farming families annually

Mentoring has contributed to a


improvement in clients’ mental health & wellbeing

Has supported


families with emergency financial aid

Building resilience and preparing for the future

A recent Rural Support survey indicates that only 23% of the farming community were optimistic about the future. Additionally, 43% of respondents were concerned about their physical and mental wellbeing.

In response, Rural Support proposes three new innovative programmes: The Business of Farming – focussing on building resilience and sustainability; The Prince’s Countryside Fund Farm Resilience Programme – developing strategic business and management skills; and, Coping with the Pressures of Farming – featuring a range of informal mental health & wellbeing workshops.  These will complement the Helpline and Mentoring Services and proactively promote prevention techniques and crisis aversion strategies.

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Other partners who are making a difference

Identifying the right network of dedicated and ambitious partners has enabled us to deliver on our charitable purposes and activities. Here are just some of the life-changing projects that our grant partners have been involved in.

  • Sólás


    Initially established in 2009 as a charity supporting children and young people with a broad range of additional needs including autism and ASD.

    Read More

  • South Belfast Foodbank

    South Belfast Foodbank

    Responsible for providing over 270,000 meals to people in crisis and for the distribution of over 200 tonnes of food.

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  • Flourish NI

    Flourish NI

    Helping survivors of human trafficking not only recover from their traumatic experiences but also to regain self-belief and new skills so that they can lead safe, independent and fulfilled lives.

    Read More