There are around 11,000 rural communities across Britain ranging from small hamlets to bustling market towns, all with their own individual character and economy. However, rural communities now find themselves at a cross-roads and action is essential in order to generate more sustainable communities and lifestyles, offering a better quality of life for all who live in the countryside, not just the affluent who can afford to live there.
With global pressures such as climate change, an ageing population and long lasting constraints on public spending, it is time to generate a new vision for our rural communities that delivers better services in different ways. Only then can we provide for the needs of both current and future generations that live, work and play in the countryside.
The Rural Community Action Network (the 38 Rural Community Councils operating as independent charities across the England and Wales, working in partnership with ACRE) believes that the solution lies in:
- enabling and encouraging communities to take more control of their own future
- providing more services locally and
- communities working in closer partnership with local government and others to reduce isolation from centres of influence and power.
With 9,000 community-owned village halls and 7,500 parish and town councils, England’s rural communities are already more self-reliant than their urban counterparts.
Local community groups provide the social infrastructure that offers mutual support to compensate for lack of access to more distant services. In facing up to future challenges, local residents will continue to draw on that tradition of self-help and respond to fill gaps in services through local community action.
Rural communities need a supportive context for this to happen – intelligentfunding directed in the right place at the right time, and an effective dialogue with external partners to find new ways of delivering services and, crucially, access to support and advice through the Rural Community Council to help them realise their aspirations.
Our Rural Vision
Our vision is that rural communities will increasingly take a leading role in ensuring the social, environmental and economic well-being of all their residents. They will do this in a way that provides for the future challenges. As one of 38 Rural Community Councils across the country, we will be there to stimulate their thinking, support their work and help turn their aspirations into reality.