Rural Change wellbeing programme to merge with Rural Support Trust

Rural Change Wellbeing Program

The Rural Change programme, which provides free private mental health professional sessions to the rural industry is set to continue its next chapter within Rural Support Trust

Rural Change’s wellbeing programme (founded by Will to Live Charitable Trust) has funded farmers and the wider rural community over 529 sessions to jump the public mental health queue, all thanks to philanthropic donations over the past five years.

“When we started Will to Live in 2019, we had the original mission to change the stigma surrounding mental health in the rural sector. It grew into a charitable trust from so many donations we received, and we passed those on to those in need in the form of funded counselling,” says founder Elle Perriam.

More than 473 people have applied for funding since Will to Live Charitable Trust launched Rural Change, with a further 98 people completing the Anxiety Unloaded programme.

“Rural Change opened up conversations about mental health among a whole new group of farmers and growers, which will have a lasting effect on the health and wellbeing of farming families and their communities,” says Rural Support national chair, Neil Bateup.

“Rural Support has been proud to work alongside Elle and her team and is immensely grateful that they are continuing to support our rural communities by passing over the wealth of knowledge and resources they have built up over the last few years, which will help Rural Support to continue supporting our farmers and growers.”

Sarah Donaldson, Rural Support Wairarapa area coordinator, says, “Given the difficulty accessing counselling providers for our more isolated communities, it has been exceptionally helpful to not only have funded sessions to break down that barrier, but also a range of rural friendly providers that could be accessed with an easy process.”

After five years of working part-time as the facilitator for Rural Change alongside the administrator, Elle says it has been one of the greatest endeavours to connect people to mental health support but says it’s time for her to to shift course personally for her career.

“It was a very hard decision to make. However, I now need the extra energy and time to focus on my studies and future career endeavours. I feel the industry is in wonderful hands with Rural Support Trust, Farmstrong, and other incredible services.”

From 1 July 2024 onwards, the nationwide network of resources and funds remaining within the Will to Live Charitable Trust will be transferred to the Rural Support Trust National Body.

“To every farmer who has participated in the Rural Change Wellbeing Program, I congratulate you and thank you for taking up the opportunity to do the hard mahi to enhance your own growth, health, and happiness. Consequently, it will have a positive flow-on effect in both your lives and the ones around you.”

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