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The first SafeHabitus Summer School: spotlight on Communities of Practice

Oct 17, 2023 | News

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20-21-22 September 2023, Carlow, (Ireland)Teagasc, coordinator of the SafeHabitus project, invited its 20 partners to meet in Carlow, Ireland, to discuss the development of Communities of Practice within the project. During the 3-day seminar, there was a focus on training workshops and a visit to the National Ploughing Championships, where the project experts were able to meet various Irish national and local organisations working together to improve farmers’ working conditions, safety and well-being.  

Over the course of three engaging days, participants dug into intensive training workshops facilitated by experts Armelle Ledan and Patricia Martinez from AEIDL. The aim of the two and half days sessions was to support the establishment of the CoPs, laying a strong foundation for collaborative efforts.  

Following a first online training session last June, providing common tools and methodology on the CoP approach and the mapping of their stakeholders, this face-to-face training workshop was based on mutual learning between CoPs core teams with hands-on application of tools and methodologies. A collective review of how those tools and templates had been used by each CoP led to various exchanges of information and practices among peers. The second part of the training focused on the social innovation process, allowing CoPs to explore more in-depth their unique challenges and social needs, and how to evidence them, in relation to health and safety of farmers. Practical exercises showed the wide variations of challenges faced depending on each CoP own context, ranging from machine safety to mental health issues, stress, appropriate education and training and early detection of health risks factors. This resulted into valuable insights for project implementation and next steps, notably to prepare their first Core Group meetings planned in October 2023. 

The training delivered is part of the guidelines currently prepared by AEIDL, offering guidance to the COPs administrators and facilitators to implement and evaluate the multi-actor approach of the project, using social innovation process, and monitor CoPs development. 

One of the highlights of the Summer School was the visit to the National Ploughing Championships, where SafeHabitus experts interacted with a range Irish national and local organisations and initiatives dedicated to enhancing farmers’ working conditions, safety, and overall well-being. Participants were inspired by the Irish Health and Safety Authority‘s demonstrations on farm vehicle usage and driver safety training. Moreover, Embrace Farm‘s commendable initiative to support families coping with the loss of a loved one provided a poignant reminder of the human aspect within the agricultural sector. 

The event also showcased innovative projects like Make the Moove and AgriKids: Make the Moove is focusing to promote positive mental health among young farmers, farmers and rural people, and AgriKids is focusing on the safety of children who come into contact with farms, animals and farm machinery. The visit to The Irish Department of Agriculture, Food, and the Marine, who provided us valuable insights on the different policy actions being taken in the agricultural sector to improve safety. Our round of visits to organisations ended with Teagasc, which campaigns for the increased adoption of safer and healthier practices. 

David Meredith & Diana Van Doorn (Teagasc) wrapped up this first edition by highlighting the needs identified by the CoP’s in order to progress with their development and implementation. They also announced the next steps for the advancement of the project and the next edition of the Summer School planned for the first quarter of 2024.