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‘Despite the trauma, a farm does not close at 5pm’

Embrace Farm: Encircle Programme 

In this article, That’s Farming further introduces you to the Embrace Farm Encircle Programme, including the services it provides. We catch up with a bereavement counsellor, Eimear Kelly, who gives us an insight into the services this initiative offers.

Embrace Farm’s Encircle Programme aims to provide additional support to farmers, who have either suffered a bereavement or survived a life-changing accident.

A team of professionals hold the core of the programme. IFAC, agricultural solicitors, the Agricultural Consultants Association, counsellors, and financial advisors are included in the valuable team of professionals who play a huge part in the programme.

Bereavement counsellor, Eimear Kelly, is among those working with two groups within the Encircle Programme, a survivor’s group, and a widow’s group.

The survivor’s group comprises survivors of farm accidents, who have now adjusted to a new way of life following their trauma. Many of these members are wheelchair users, rely on walking aids, or have suffered a brain injury.

Furthermore, the programme established a widow’s group, which comprises 25-30 widows.

Following the establishment of Embrace Farm, the Encircle programme has gone from strength to strength over the years.

“Not everyone can understand what it is like to endure a bereavement or trauma,” Eimear, a counsellor for the Encircle programme, and daughter of a dairy farmer, explains to That’s Farming.

“These groups are formed with like-minded people. Farming is different from a 9-5; despite the trauma, farming must continue on. There are animals to be taken care of; a farm does not close at 5 pm.”

Encircle programme 

The Encircle programme was formed on the basis of a unique, one-for-all service, which is tailored to those who need it in their darkest days.

Unfortunately, when death unexpectedly arises for a farmer, the business must keep going.

In many instances, their family may not be interested in the enterprise. Nonetheless, and unlike some other enterprises, the business must keep functioning.

“A challenge for those bereaved is the business aspect of things. Despite a loss, the show must go on.”

“This is why we have created this tailored service, to include a team of professionals. The services range from seeking agricultural advice, financial advice, to seeking counselling sessions.”

This service is particularly valued by those who have suffered the loss of unexpected death on the farm. This includes family or friends who are now faced with the business aspect, with little to no understanding of the functioning business.

The family members affected by such a loss may contact Embrace Farm programme for information on agricultural advice, or otherwise for emotional support.

Tailored service

The Encircle programme involves professionals from a range of backgrounds, from a variety of industries.

The purpose of having this extensive range of expertise is to ensure that each person who comes forward to the programme has access to the service they require.

This service ranges from requiring taxation advice to seeking emotional support, and everything else in between.

“I have empathy and appreciation for the hard work conducted by farmers. It is particularly difficult for people who are trying their best to continue the farm business, as well as carry the burden of a loss.”

“I cannot emphasise it enough; farming is not your average 9 to 5 job. It is quite an isolating industry. Adding a death or serious accident creates an extremely hard scenario,” Eimear explains to That’s Farming.

The purpose of the project has been designed to support those directly affected by trauma from the accident. Accidents involving slurry gas, attacks from animals, and machinery incidents all have the ability to result in life-changing effects.

The transition of adapting to a new way of life for farmers is difficult. However, the purpose of the Encircle programme is to make this process somewhat easier.

Likewise, should you be a family member, a friend or even a neighbour affected by such a trauma, this service is available to you.

The same service is available for those who are dealing with the grievance of a loss of the farming community.


The board of the Embrace Farm programme comprises members who have been directly affected by a loss within the farming community, whether that be a family member or a friend.

In addition to the support network within the programme, Embrace also hosts a Remembrance Sunday on the last Sunday in June.

The 9th Annual Ecumenical Remembrance Service 2022 is organised by Embrace FARM. This event will be held on Sunday, June 26th 2022, at the Most Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Abbeyleix, Co. Laois.

Furthermore, the programme hosts weekends away, which most recently sees Embrace hosting a ‘Widows Weekend’.

The purpose of these events is to involve as many affected members as possible. The Embrace Farm programme has funded all of these programmes.

Embrace Farm programme secured funding from the Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine. This funding covers the cost of six counselling sessions, as well as the additional support from other professions.

Getting involved

The partners welcome those directly affected by life-changing trauma or bereavement from a farming accident to get involved in the programme.

“I suggest and encourage anyone who has found themselves recently bereaved, or following a life-changing accident, to reach out.”

“The first step is to reach out. You can contact the Embrace Farm programme by email, text, WhatsApp, or call, whichever you prefer. Following this, we will take the batten, and we will offer the props to support you from here.”

Eimear concludes, “you do not even need to know what to say”.

“You just make the first call, and we will be there to support you.”

To share your story, email – [email protected]

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