Presidential Candidate Senator Joan Freeman Speaks On Rural Isolation Ahead Of Visit To National Ploughing Championships
Ahead of her visit to the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore, Presidential candidate Senator Joan Freeman speaks about the increasing prevalence of rural isolation, particularly among the farming community:
“Numerous studies have shown that the depopulation of rural communities, the closure of local shops and businesses, as well as the cutting back of important local infrastructures and services, such as the post office, have an immediate effect on the social fabric of a community. As opportunities to socialise diminish, feelings of loneliness and isolation increase and we know that this affects men, and most particularly farmers, aged 45 – 54.”
During her time with Pieta House, Senator Freeman worked closely with the Irish Farmers Association (IFA) when in 2013, they jointly launched Mind Our Farm Families, an initiative which provided a dedicated suicide and self-harm phone line as well as information booklets to farmers and their families. The initiative was in response to the high number of suicides being accounted to the agricultural sector at 12.5%, the second highest sector after construction:
“As farmers begin to slow down physically as a result of age or declining health, so does their productivity at work which, in turn, leads to increased financial pressures. The unpredictability of a changing climate, which this year has caused major disruption, only further adds to these financial strains. It is these strains that can often lead to feelings of distress, isolation and suicidal ideation.”
“We must do our utmost to support our farming and rural communities up and down the country. Their survival is not only vital to our economy but also to our sense of identity and our culture. As President I will travel to these communities and listen to the concerns of those living in rural towns and villages. I will champion initiatives and organisations such as Men’s Sheds, who support and promote the health and well-being of men in communities across the country.”
Senator Joan Freeman will attend the National Ploughing Championships in Screggan, Tullamore, tomorrow [Tuesday, September 18th 2018] from 10am. She plans to visit the Children’s Rights Alliance, Macra Na Feirme, Home Instead, Lions Clubs, HSE Healthy Eating & Active Living, Muintir Na Tíre, Rural Wi-Fi, St Patrick’s Mental Health Services, Department of Rural and Community Affairs stands and local businesses among others.