• Worker's death prompts suicide prevention programme for Hawke's Bay businesses

Worker's death prompts suicide prevention programme for Hawke's Bay businesses

The loss of a work mate at local business Tumu Timbers a few years ago has led to the development of a local-led workplace suicide prevention programme. 
Tumu Timbers general manager James Truman with the support of colleague Bronnie Coory and Hawke’s Bay DHB Suicide Prevention Coordinator Kerry Gilbert have worked with Caroline Wilson of A-OK New Zealand to create the Mates4Life Hawke’s Bay workplace suicide prevention programme. 
“We sadly lost a work colleague which prompted us to get some support from a national suicide prevention provider but then we quickly saw a growing need for a locally delivered programme.”
“Sadly, Hawke’s Bay has a high rate of suicide and unfortunately many workplaces and whanau across the region are impacted by the devastating loss of a work mate and family member.” 

A team of 20 local facilitators have already delivered a pilot of the Mates4Life awareness programme to 364 employees at Tumu Group (including Tumu Timbers and Tumu ITM Hawke’s Bay stores) and Bostock New Zealand. 
As part of the ongoing sustainability of the programme 49 staff at the two businesses have been trained as Connectors, a support role that is there for fellow workers who may be mentally distressed and in need of support. A further 11 staff have been trained as Safety Aiders, to support Connectors and with intervention skills to respond to a person with suicidal thoughts by implementing a safety plan and to link them to other supports.  

“We had a vision for a programme that would be long-term, sustainable, no barriers and free.” says James.

John O’Sullivan Managing Director of Tumu Group said the programme has already been a success.

“We only need one intervention for the Mates4Life programme to be a success and if we can ensure that a workplace and a family home aren’t impacted by the traumatic loss of a
colleague or loved one, that’s our measure of success,” said John.

Bostock New Zealand Group HR Manager Rhonda Simpson said the training had a positive impact with staff.

“The feedback from the team is that the session was great, relatable and important.  It has certainly raised awareness and started some pretty deep conversations here. We really appreciate being included in the pilot and hope to stay involved as Mates4Life is rolled out to more organisations. I know there is a lot of interest from the horticulture industry for this awareness training”

A Charitable Trust - Mates of Hawke’s Bay Charitable Trust has been formed to secure funding and to coordinate the delivery of the programme, which is provided free to businesses.

So far funding has come from the Ministry of Social Development, the Ministry of Primary Industries and Royston Health Trust. Eastern Institute of Technology provides the trust with a professional level of training course evaluation.

Following an announcement of a wellbeing support package for fruit growers facing tough times earlier in the year by Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor, both the Ministry for
Primary Industries (MPI) and the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) have got behind the programme.

Nick Story, Director of Rural Communities and Farming Support at MPI, said the programme has the potential to reach every corner of the Hawkes Bay region.
“Because the Mates4Life programme has such a strong local flavour it will appeal to all sorts of businesses, including those in the primary sector. The foundations have been laid and we are very supportive of the programme which we see going from strength to strength.”  

The Mates of Hawke’s Bay Charitable Trust is chaired by James with fellow trustees Bronnie Coory of the Tumu Group, Damon Harvey, a Hastings District Councillor and former chair of Sport Hawke’s Bay and Conrad Waitoa, founder of Inspire In Education. Ingrid Squire, lawyer and Partner at Gifford Devine joins the trustees to form the Mates4Life steering group.

Baker Tilly Staples Rodway support the financial administration.

The coordination and delivery of the programme is supported by a working group consisting of James, Bronnie, Kerry and Caroline along with Tyson Ataera, Unison Wellbeing Lead and H&S Advisor and Kylie Truman, Tumu Group.

If your business is interested in Mates 4 Life, visit www.mates4life.org.nz

Where to get help:

  • Need to Talk? Free call or text 1737 any time to speak to a trained counsellor, for any reason.
  • Lifeline: 0800 543 354 or text HELP to 4357
  • Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 / 0508 TAUTOKO (24/7). This is a service for people who may be thinking about suicide, or those who are concerned about family or friends.
  • Depression Helpline: 0800 111 757 (24/7) or text 4202
  • Samaritans: 0800 726 666 (24/7)
  • Youthline: 0800 376 633 (24/7) or free text 234 (8am-12am), or email talk@youthline.co.nz
  • What's Up: online chat (3pm-10pm) or 0800 WHATSUP / 0800 9428 787 helpline (12pm-10pm weekdays, 3pm-11pm weekends)
  • Kidsline (ages 5-18): 0800 543 754 (24/7)
  • Rural Support Trust Helpline: 0800 787 254
  • Healthline: 0800 611 116
  • Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155

If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.