Figure 1 – things about which all people are most concerned generally in their rural area (all case study areas together) % very concerned353025201510 5 0
Figure 2 – Difficulties getting to particular facilities and services – percentage finding it very difficult (each area separately, top 5)201816141210 8 6 4 2 0 Cinema Museums/galleries Bus stop Police Station Hostpital Cornwall Llanarth Dorset Rhayader Painswick Raglan All
Figure 3 – things that strongly limit, or prevent, people getting involved incommunity activities (all areas together) % who feel they are unable to get invoved353025201510 5 0 Lack of time Lack of access to Health limitations Lack of money Lack of confidence Feeling unsafe Dont get on with Not interested. transport those involed
Figure 4 - In terms of social support: those thinking that access toneighbours, family and official services are ‘very important’ (each case studyarea separately)908070605040302010 0 Having good neighbours Having family nearby Having good access to social services and other support agencies Cornwall Llanarth Dorset Rhayader Painswick Raglan All
Figure 5 – Issues of concern: a review of Parish Plans (80) and Market Town Plans (40) – the 10 most importantParish Plans Market Town PlansTraffic issues Traffic issuesHousing issues Poor town environmentPoor facilities for young people Public transportLaw and order Poor facilities for young peoplePublic transport Local leisure and recreation facilitiesMinor environmental nuisance Limited range of local shopsInadequate village services Neglect of tourism potentialParking issues Facilities to support businessesMore environmental protection Poor quality employmentVillage hall matters Affordable housingBLUE – potentially related to remoteness.
1. How do we recognise it in Herefordshire?We tend to think of rural isolation as being geographical. But research suggeststhat in the main social or community isolation is higher in people’s minds thanremoteness. Both, though, can lead to isolation.
2. How do we measure it?2a. Older People in Rural Areas Project: this examined individuals over 60 intwo remote rural areas in England (North Cornwall) and Wales (Llanarth, Dyfed),two areas close to urban areas (Painswick in England and Raglan in Wales) andtwo areas in between (West Dorset and Rhayader, Powys), so the data is goodfor looking at geographical remoteness. 150 doorstep interviews were conductedin each case study area, 900 in total. Some results from the surveys can help usunderstand the relative importance of community on the one hand andremoteness on the other, in understanding rural isolation amongst the over 60s.In terms of the issues that worried people most – figure 1 – poor quality publictransport and the closure of local services were the most common, in that order,but interestingly these did not vary by geographical remoteness. When we look atthe difficulty of getting to particular facilities and services, too – figure 2 – there isno particular association with remoteness and these difficulties are really quitesmall. Interestingly, when we look at what it is that causes difficulties in gettinginvolved in particular activities– figure 3 – geographical remoteness is again notstrong (and this is the same for all types of area again). Finally for this project, wecan look at social isolation – or the opposite – a sense of community – figure 4.Here, good neighbours are more important than the availability of public servicesfor older people in all types of rural areas and in most cases, good neighboursare more important than family, too.
2b. Rural Social Surveys: turning now to all rural people, Malcolm Moseley’ssurveys of rural England tell us a lot about the social state of our villages. I’ve justpicked out one comparison here – figure 5 – which outlines the ten most importantissues of concern in a survey of parish plans on the one hand and market townson the other. This tells us two things about isolation: it doesn’t seem to be veryimportant in villages or market towns relative to other matters and; if anything it ismore important in larger settlements.
3. How do we overcome (or reduce) it?3a Policy: the Localism Act (passed in November 2011, into force in April 2012)provides many opportunities for community empowerment in support of the BigSociety: neighbourhood planning (Much Wenlock, Shropshire, is a national leaderhere); community right to buy. But make sure that the plans are representative,that we have the knowledge and skills to do them properly and that not only themost articulate communities benefit.
3b Finance: the Office for Civil Society and the ‘Giving’ White Paper: £16.8million support for free advice services for Community Development; £10million for Big Society Innovators; £34 million for those whose ‘giving’ isinnovative; £24 million Social Action Fund (to persuade people to be moreactively involved in their communities); the £30 million Community First fund(for matched-funding neighbourhood initiatives).