Our year started with a full calendar of bookings right around the country, and
a team of checkers willing to support these dates.
The annual Checkers Day in February was a good chance to reconnect firstly in
the Waikato and then with a small group in Whangarei. I suggest we continue
to have an event in the Waikato every year, and invite those further afield to
join us every second year. The chance for checkers to meet each other, and
receive a project update plus specialist speakers is an important connection to
make, and also to give practical thanks to this team of volunteers.
Also in February we attended the Momentum Conference for 2 days in Mt
Maunganui, offering checks to the Zespri kiwifruit growers. The challenges of
labour supply and isolation, plus weather events continue, though overall the
industry is positive at the moment. Some GPs are making the effort to be in
regular text contact with their long term patients.
I went to the Whataroa A and P Show, also in February, in southern Westland.
There are challenges for older farm owners not being able to sell, and banks
often reluctant to lend for land purchase. Combined with environmental rules
the future is unclear for many. Our listening ear, and direction to GP and 1737
seemed to be helpful.
Early in March saw us doing checks at a small Farm and Fuel store in Kaeo,
Northland. There were several important health related conversations, among
the boxes and bags of farm supplies! This was followed by two busy days at the
Northland Field Days in Dargaville. Lower than expected attendance was the
first sign that Covid 19 was on the horizon for everyone. Farmers were stoic
about the drought conditions, and many had made big decisions early to cope.
A SMASH event in Te Aroha was a good meeting point for Stay Well checks,
and turned out to be our last event before lockdown for the whole country.
Dairy NZ invited Stay Well to be part of their project on farmer wellbeing. They
are focussing on the value (or not) of a 3 milkings in 2 days regime, and we
checked over 50 farmer in the Canterbury/Otago area along with the DairyNZ
research team. We will revisit these people in May/June 2021.
With many more events cancelled over the next few months, it was October
before we were on the road to Gisborne A and P Show. As the first such show
possible for some time it was well attended. It was good to hear from two GPs
who appreciate our service and the chance it gives them to see people who
don’t usually go to the doctor.
We continued south, and attended the Elsthorpe School Pet Day, which was a
great place to be, with most locals in attendance, and a very prominent site. It
was a busy few hours, and a good connection with Pamu Farms who organised
our attendance. It would be great to attend more school Pet Days in the
Two checkers drove south to Mapiu that week, and did checks at a River Care
event, which is another good place for us to be.
Rural Support have given us mugs and beanies for anyone who gets a Stay Well
check and these have been well received.
Three of our Waikato checkers attended MH101 and MH Addiction training in
November. I am always encouraged to see their enthusiasm to extend their
On reflection I feel we have made the most of any opportunities we had to
spread positive health messages, and offer a one on one screening check in
rural communities, which continues to be valuable.
My special thanks to the Trustees who back me up in so many ways, and the
team of checkers who so willingly give their time and expertise to the project.
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