Member of the Welsh Parliament for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, questioned the Minister for Rural Affairs, Lesley Griffiths MS in the Senedd earlier this week about the impact of Covid -19 on the rural economy.
Nick said: “We know that mental health issues can often be hidden and disguised, particularly in deeper rural areas of Wales, often, sadly, until it's too late. The pandemic has now added another layer to many of the stresses and strains that are being faced by businesses and farmers, for instance, in the rural areas. What assessment have you made and what discussions have you had with the Minister responsible for dealing with mental health issues to assess the challenges that are facing businesses and farmers and people within the rural economy, and what support can the Welsh Government give to businesses in those areas at this difficult time to make sure that the burden is carried with those affected by the Government for as much as possible?”
Lesley Griffiths MS replied:
“Nick Ramsay raises a very important point. It's about that balance of harms that the First Minister was referring to, and we've clearly seen poor mental health increase significantly during this pandemic. In relation to the rural sector and the agricultural sector, we have brought forward specific schemes to help our agricultural sector. We've brought forward a group of all the charities that work in this area. I attended several meetings, particularly over the summer and the spring, at the height of the pandemic, to make sure that those charities and organisations were working very closely together for farmers to access that funding. We also brought forward a scheme that was in production, but we brought it forward earlier, where people can access really quick assistance to work with organisations in relation to better mental health.
I've had discussions with my colleague Eluned Morgan and, prior to that, with the Minister for Health and Social Services around this to ensure that we are reaching as many people as possible, and I really pay tribute to the charities within the agricultural sector who have provided so much support over the past nine months.”