Rural News: Partnership aims for better rural mental health


Fencing Contractors Association of NZ partners with rural mental health and wellbeing advocate Craig Wiggins

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Craig Wiggins

Phil Cornelius, FCANZ president, says that the partnership with Wiggy is important for the industry and the rural sector.

"As an association we represent the fencing industry as a whole, but our roots are very rural, and the majority of our members are still strongly connected with the rural sector. Rural mental health has always been a challenge, but even more so now in light of the unprecedented destruction caused by the extreme weather events of the first two months of 2023."

Whatever With Wiggy founder Craig Wiggins is well known for his rural mental health initiatives including "Lean on a gate, talk to a mate" and his Whatever With Wiggy Facebook group.

Established in response to the 2020 Covid-19 lockdown, the Whatever With Wiggy Charitable Trust seeks to maintain and build connections within the rural community.

Initially Whatever With Wiggy consisted of a Zoom meeting every Thursday night, with up to 80 plus attendees, discussing everything from covid to politics, to mental health and all issues affecting rural communities. Now, Wiggy’s work also includes nationwide rural health and wellbeing checks with the Carr Family Foundation, checking farmers’ overall health and wellbeing at rural events, and Agriconnect, providing mental health seminars for the rural service industry and rural professionals.

"Being invited to be a Patron for FCANZ is an exciting time. It allows us another way to connect with another important part of the rural community – and means that we can continue supporting those who need it.

FCANZ has always had a connection with Wiggy, so this partnership is not unexpected. In 2022, association members raised $15,000 for the Whatever With Wiggy charitable trust in an impromptu charity auction at their annual conference.

"This level of un-prompted support shows just how important our members and industry partners feel Wiggy’s work is," says Paul.

"We’re excited to have him on board as our Patron and we look forward to working with him further."

FCANZ will be holding a charity auction at their conference this year in New Plymouth and hope to meet or beat the $15,000 raised last year.

Anyone who is interested can reach out for support though the Whatever With Wiggy Facebook page at facebook.com/whateverwithwiggy.

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