A mental health and oral histories commission for rural Swansea | Wales

A mental health and oral histories project and resources to raise awareness of existing support for the agricultural sector and land workers in rural Swansea has just been launched.

Members of the Swansea Rural Development Partnership (LAG) Local Group together with agricultural support partners must put in place measures to strengthen and support farming communities and create a resilient rural Swansea and improve health and well-being.

Membership of the LAG has recently expanded to include greater agricultural representation, which has led to a better understanding of the needs and challenges faced by our farming communities in Swansea.

The commission will provide an opportunity for farmers and farmworkers to talk about the legacy of farming in the Swansea countryside, the successes and the difficulties encountered, which will be captured for future generations to learn from.

The commission will also convey a message that mental health issues can affect anyone, but it will also highlight the support that exists, accessible locally. Resources will direct people to helpful information and services, and provide opportunities to connect with peers and start conversations.

Andrew Stevens, Cabinet Member of the Business Improvement and Performance Council, said:

“Being a farmer can come with many challenges that can impact your mental health, from working long hours often in isolation to financial worries and, due to the nature of the production food, you are completely bound to your job and at the mercy of the weather. Most rural workers live where they work, making it all the more difficult to separate work and personal life.

Farmers can be seen as very tough, hardworking and strong characters and this perception is what makes it even more difficult to fight the stigma.

Hopefully the project will help to showcase farming and rural life in Swansea & Gower and show how important it is to our economy and history, but more importantly it can shed light on the services available to hopefully help break down some barriers and raise awareness about mental health.

Swansea RDP LAG is grateful for the contribution of a number of partner organizations namely Farming Community Network, The DPJ Foundation, Public Health Wales, Bangor University and RABI for all their contributions to the development of the commission and for their ongoing support.

Rachael Aka, local action group member and regional support manager for the farming community in Wales, said:

“The demanding and often unstable work involved in farming and the agricultural sector not only represents hard physical labor for those working in the field, but it can also put a strain on the mental health of some farmers and land workers.

It is hoped that the commission will normalize discussions on the subject, emphasize that poor mental health is unfortunately not unusual or something to be ashamed of, and support farmers and farm workers who may be struggling quietly.

Horse Plow at Gower Plowing Match

The commission will provide three elements:

The Oral History Project ‘Stories from a Changing Landscape, A Farmer’s Perspective’ will provide a space for rural workers based in Swansea to discuss their farming history, the changing landscape of their family farm and highlight highlights the struggles and successes, mental health issues and what the future will bring. This will be captured in an exhibition, which will be made available on different digital platforms and in physical exhibition spaces.

A local, sector-specific directory offering contact details of organizations that provide support with mental health issues, and other aspects such as legal advice and family support will be produced and distributed.

The exhibition events will feature ‘Stories from a Changing Landscape, a farmers’ perspective which will bring Swansea communities together to celebrate farming heritage, address mental health issues and provide information to support organisations.

Are you a farmer or agricultural worker, want to share your heritage and experiences as part of this commission, or need support for mental health services? Please contact the Swansea Council RDP team for details.

The RDP is a seven-year program of the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development funded by the European Union and the Welsh Government’s Rural Communities – Rural Development Program 2014-2020, ending in 2023.

Continued – https://www.swansea.gov.uk/rdp and www.facebook.com/rdpleader/

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