It is an irony, and a challenge, in a world where communications become more and more efficient and more accessible, that isolation and loneliness are holding more and more lives — possibly millions — in an unbreakable half-Nelson.
That isolation, or even marginalisation, is sharper for those unable to play a full part in society. Even the mildest disability, if it limits a person’s capacity to lead an independent life, can push an individual outside the ebb and flow of companionship, especially workplace companionship.
South Kerry’s farmers are being offered an opportunity to help individuals transcend those limits through a UCC outreach programme which will be based in Caherciveen.
It will train farmers to work with adults with disabilities so they might have an opportunity to integrate with their communities by working with nature. Kerry Social Farming was set up in 2013 to advance the principles of equality, social inclusion, and voluntary community development. Some 19 farmers participate.
This programme may seem a drop-in-the-ocean gesture but it is not, it is far more significant. It offers opportunity where there may not have been any, it offers human contact where it may have been limited. It also asks a powerful question: Who benefits most from this process of empowering inclusion — those who avail of it or those who offer it?
Maybe every community, and not just farming communities, might consider if it could follow South Kery’s lead.