‘IT’S a club I never thought I’d be part of,’ are words frequently heard in the charity Embrace FARM.
That ‘club’ is one a family finds themselves in when they are affected by the trauma of a farm accident.
When a farm accident occurs, it is usually the farmer themselves that is fatally killed or seriously injured. Their knowledge is gone, their expertise is gone, the income they generated is gone and it leaves the family left behind in a vulnerable place over what to do next.
Embrace FARM (Farm Accidents Remembered and Missed) was set up in 2014 by Brian and Norma Rohan from Shanahoe, Co. Laois, following the death of Brian’s father Liam from a farm accident on their family farm in 2012. The Rohan’s felt there was no support out there specifically for farm families in this situation.
To honour all those who had died in a farm accident they held the first ecumenical Remembrance Service in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois in June 2014. With over 600 people attending the first service, it has been held each year since on the last Sunday of June. During Covid-19 pandemic times in 2020 the service was held online and televised on RTÉ and will follow a similar format this year.
Having received its full charitable status in 2017, Embrace FARM’s vision is to be a caring and supportive agri community for all those affected by farm accidents, explains the business develoment manager, Catherine Collins, originally from Baltimore. ‘To help the wellbeing of our farming community, we built a community of support for those who are on a journey they never expected to be on.
‘Though there is no formal recording of farm accidents themselves, from previous Teagasc research, approximately 2000-2500 farm accidents happen each year resulting in minor and major injuries to farmers and/or people on farms. There are on average 20 lives lost fatally on Irish farms each year.
The fatality statistics collated each year by the Health and Safety Authority highlight that farming is the most dangerous occupation in Ireland,’ says Katherine.
Embrace FARM connects with over 250 families per year through the supports it offers. This can be through the roll call of names at its Remembrance Service, to families attending the residential counselling weekends for spouses who have lost their husbands/partners and families that have lost a child on a family farm or people who have sustained life changing injuries from a farm accident attending the support group meetings Embrace FARM provides.
Over 12% of the families it supports are from the Cork area with more than half of them based in West Cork. Katherine O’Sullivan, president of Network Ireland West Cork, has chosen Embrace FARM to be the branch’s chosen charity for 2021. Coming from a farming community herself and knowing people affected by farm accidents, Katherine felt it was an ideal synergy to introduce the charity to the wider communities in West Cork through the Network and to support their theme for this year ‘Embracing Change’.
Catherine says: ‘If you have been affected by a farm accident, please contact Embrace FARM. It does not matter if an accident has been recent or in the distant past, the impact of the trauma resulting from it has life changing affects to those left behind and rehabilitating to a different life.’
See www.embracefarm.com or through its various social media channels @embracefarmsupport