Dwyfor Meirionnydd MS Mabon ap Gwynfor is urging people to support the work of rural mental health charity, the DPJ Foundation, who are on the lookout for volunteers.
The DPJ Foundation is a Wales-based mental health charity which supports those in the agricultural industry and rural communities with mental health problems in an accessible way that suits the specific needs of the individual.
Mr ap Gwynfor joined DPJ Foundation representatives Kate Miles and Tamzyn Lawrence at Meirionnydd Show in Harlech to discuss the charity’s local outreach work and a need to enlist the help of more volunteers across rural areas in Meirionnydd.
The charity was set up in July 2016 following the suicide of agricultural contractor, Daniel Picton Jones and the difficulties faced by those working within the agricultural community in accessing timely mental health support.
The service has since expanded to provide a confidential 24-hour helpline staffed by Samaritans-trained volunteers and an outreach counselling service either on the farm, online, by telephone or face-to-face away from the farm.
They provide a bilingual service all over Wales.
Mr ap Gwynfor MS said: “I am incredibly proud to represent farming communities in Dwyfor Meirionnydd and fully recognise the importance of protecting the mental health of those living and working in our rural communities.
“Taking mental health seriously ought to be a priority for everyone, and whilst farming is a fantastic industry to work in, pressures and the isolating nature of the work can be incredibly challenging and support across the board is vital.
“That is why organisations such as the DPJ Foundation have become a cornerstone of support for our rural, agricultural communities, raising awareness of mental health in rural communities and eradicating the stigma surrounding it.
“To maintain and build on the existing network of volunteers, the DPJ Foundation are always on the lookout for more people to support their work and raise awareness of mental health across communities in Gwynedd.
“Agriculture carries the highest rate of suicide, so access to timely support within rural communities is paramount. I appeal to anyone, particularly those living in Meirionnydd, who think they can support the work of the DPJ Foundation to reach out to the charity.”
DPJ Foundation charity manager, Kate Miles said: “We are extremely proud of our free Share the Load helpline and counselling service; however, it is only helpful if people know about it and are willing to get in touch.
“That is why we are calling for more volunteers from the Meirionnydd area to help us raise awareness of our services, especially in the West of the region.
“This will involve attending shows and events to talk to people about what we do and how they could access our services as a Regional Champion, rather than providing any support themselves.
“We have people from various walks of life in our Regional Champion team although most have a connection to agriculture, all are passionate about helping challenge the stigma surrounding poor mental health.
“We are pleased to have the support of our Senedd Member in this area in helping us to recruit additional Champions to our team.”