Countryside dwellers are made to feel “off the radar” and “left behind” with impassable roads, no public transport and poor broadband fuelling a sense of being cut off and ignored, a report has found.
A sense of remoteness, being “forgotten” and “last in the pecking order” has increased dramatically in rural communities in the past decade, according to new research by The Prince’s Contryside Fund and Scotland’s Rural College.
It has been caused partly by poor internet access “too slow even for online banking” and a road network so poor it is “not fit to support the rural economy”.
In the past 10 years, roads have deteriorated so drastically that “bad weather can trap families for days”, it warned. Combined with a sharp fall in rural public transport this means it is almost impossible to “get around without owning a car”, the report said.
For those without a car this fuels isolation and leads to a rise in mental health problems, it warned.
Claire Saunders, director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, told The Telegraph: “Changes are interconnected – the combination of a lack of affordable housing, a deterioration of the state of the roads and a reliance on private transport, and a lack of reliable access to digital and broadband impact on the experience of people living in rural areas.”
Volunteers are under “huge pressure” and are “taking responsibility for sustaining the community” in the absence of public services, the report said.
In some cases this has meant residents gritting roads themselves, keeping public toilets open and fundraising to keep village halls accessible.
“Many respondents to the survey told us that they did not feel as though the public valued rural communities, or understood the challenges faced by living in these areas,” Ms Saunders told The Telegraph. “Respondents also felt as though a lack of joined up thinking on rural issues is because rural areas are ‘invisible’ or ‘off the radar’, their location leading to their specific needs being overlooked.”
The research is based on more than 3,000 responses to a public survey that revealed 500 projects designed to combat the sense rejection and loneliness in remote villages.
“It is encouraging to hear how communities are taking action to address the challenges they face,” Ms Saunders added.
“These projects address feelings of isolation in rural areas and foster a sense of community spirit and pride. Many of these projects typically deliver multiple outcomes, such as arts activities contributing to increasing personal confidence, or food projects linking people with the land and with each other.”
“However, rural respondents told us that their lived experience is too often and too easily overlooked, and that living in rural areas can make them feel invisible.”
Article Source : https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/07/29/countryside-dwellers-feel-left-behind-due-poor-roads-no-public/