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Rural communities raise the bar

Rural community-run pub, Dog Inn at Belthorn in Lancashire
The Dog Inn at Belthorn in Lancashire. Image provided by The Plunkett Foundation
Rural England provide information about how small and rural communities are pulling together to benefit their local communities.

Rural England explain the ways individuals have been open-minded and improved the lives of the people within their communities by making a few small changes, each delivering a substantial positive impact on the people living in those rural communities.

By opening community run shops and pubs creates a sense of security, and  enables local people to get a pint of milk and a loaf of bread without having to worry about - and rely on - public transport to take them to the nearest supermarket in the next town.

Below, Rural England explain more about how people can and have made a difference in their rural communities:

In a fast changing world it’s a sad fact that many small or rural communities have lost amenities, such as the village shop, pub or bus service.  This can take the life out of a community, as well as leaving certain residents with real problems accessing services.

However, a growing number of communities have found ways to save their local amenities or develop alternatives.  There are, for example, now roughly 300 community-run shops, largely run by volunteers.  This substantially lowers the operating cost and makes them more viable.

Other communities have managed to buy and sustain their village pub, raising some of the necessary capital through a community shares scheme, which allows residents to own a share of the asset.

Volunteer car driver schemes can offer a transport solution, enabling elderly residents or those with limited mobility to reach health care and other appointments.  Typically, users pay the driver a sum to cover the vehicle running costs.

One notable trend has been the growing number of libraries run by volunteers, in most cases still holding books from the local authority’s stock and retaining some back-up from professional librarians.

Community run services can deliver tangible benefits, such as more regular and consistent opening hours of amenities, or new facilities such as cafes.  But, almost by definition, they are highly dependent on the willingness, time and skills of local volunteers.

Brian Wilson of Rural England CIC comments, “These initiatives take serious effort and staying power, not to mention fundraising, but a growing number of communities have taken the plunge.  Grant funding and guidance can usually be sourced for those determined to find solutions.”

To find out more about trends in service provision read the ‘State of Rural Services 2018’ report published by research organisation, Rural England CIC.