The importance of libraries in rural areas

This blog was contributed by Alan Wylie on behalf of Voices for the Library

Joan_reading_WEBLibraries are seen by many as a lifeline and a crucial public service, especially if you are elderly, socially isolated, poor, vulnerable, or all of the above.

In rural areas, the local library, along with the village hall, pub and shop, is the focal point of community life. It’s a safe, trusted place for meeting friends and neighbours, a place for learning, information and leisure and sometimes just a place to keep warm.

If a community is unfortunate enough not to have a static library, then mobile/housebound services fill the gap, helping those that are most isolated.

Let’s look at the data:

Continue reading “The importance of libraries in rural areas”

Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people

This blog was contributed by Alice Woudhuysen, Senior Campaigner at Age UK.

It’s a well-known fact that we live in a rapidly ageing society, to the extent that by 2083, about one in three people in the UK will be over 60 (ONS 2009).

Rural image 1This is, of course, a significant advancement and cause for celebration: longer lives represent progress and older people are big contributors to society.

Perhaps less well known is the fact that rural communities are ageing faster than their urban counterparts, with the number of people aged 85+ set to increase by 186 per cent by 2028 in rural areas, compared with just 149 per cent in the UK as a whole (Oxford Consultants for Social Inclusion, for Cabinet Office, 2009). This is down to rising life expectancy, the outward migration of younger people to cities and the inward migration of people entering middle age to the countryside. Continue reading “Rural living – a challenge for many of England’s older people”

The impact of bus cuts on older people in rural areas

We have heard a lot lately from various politicians about the need to examine the universal benefits received by older people and in particular the concessionary bus pass. It seems that in the age of austerity, even something that has been so successful and proved so popular, is subject to review.

But it is not just the threat from government to withdraw the bus pass from all bus cutsbut the poorest, there is also the threat to bus funding from the imminent spending review. Cuts to bus services will hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest.

Older and disabled people have hugely benefited from free bus travel and often rely on public transport to do their shopping, get to their GP and hospital appointments and visit friends. Continue reading “The impact of bus cuts on older people in rural areas”

Rural Fuel Poverty – forgotten but not gone?

This blog was contributed by David Terrace, Energy Programme Manager, at Age UK. 

One cannot escape from the scrutiny on fuel poverty this winter, and rightly so, it’s an epidemic. However, one element of fuel poverty that is often ignored is the plight of those in rural, off-mains gas areas. For Age UK, this is particularly important as there is twice the percentage of retired people in rural areas than urban, and there are around 1.5million older people living off the gas grid.

So what we are doing about? During the cold winter we highlighted the issues Elderly woman trying to keep warm by the firesidethat are facing older, isolated people in rural areas. Age UK achieved this through considerable press coverage with articles appearing in the Daily Mail and the Daily Telegraph. This raised awareness of older people in terrible housing stock, paying a great deal more for their heating but not receiving the help that they need.

There was more to do than just talk about it, it needed tangible action. The spark was provided by the Department of Energy and Climate change announcing its Cheaper Energy Together fund in November. We knew we had to the opportunity to ‘show not tell’ on rural fuel poverty, albeit with a very short timescale (start in January, finish before Easter!) Continue reading “Rural Fuel Poverty – forgotten but not gone?”

Wise up to Rural Ageing!

This guest blog was contributed by Jan Bailey; Coordinator of the Over the hill? Ageing in rural England campaign. She previously worked with the Rural Media Company on Travellers Remember project.

Rural retirement is the dream of many an urban dweller.  In fact, in a recent survey 57% of those over 55s questioned stated that the idea of moving to a rural area in their retirement was either appealing or very appealing,

Perhaps this is not surprising when one considers the way that rural life is depicted on our TV screens.  Rolling countryside, beautiful scenery, wholesome country folk and traditional lifestyles all contribute to the vision of a great place to retire.

Undoubtedly, the reality does often live up to the dream –especially for those in their middle years who are fit and able and willing to get involved with their local communities.

However, for the frail, immobile or isolated, rural living can present difficulties not always appreciated by the aspiring rural retiree. Continue reading “Wise up to Rural Ageing!”