Tumu Timbers has partnered with Hawke’s Bay DHB and A-OK New Zealand to create the Mates4Life Hawke’s Bay workplace suicide prevention programme. 

The loss of a work mate to suicide at Tumu Timbers was the catalyst for the programme’s development, explains James Truman, general manager, Tumu Timbers.

“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.”

A team of 20 local facilitators has 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 Truman.

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,” she says. 

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. 

Funding and support to date is from: 

  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Ministry of Primary Industries
  • Royston Health Trust
  • Eastern Institute of Technology 
  • Ministry for Primary Industries
  • Ministry of Social Development.  

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

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