Recharging Rural research announced

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is thrilled to announce it has appointed Professor Sarah Skerratt of Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC) to conduct vital research into what can make rural communities in the UK sustainable, in spite of the adversities they face.

These communities are facing an increasing number of seemingly insurmountable challenges. An ageing and disconnected population is experiencing a reduction in local amenities and services; younger people are being priced out of living in rural areas thanks to rising housing costs and lower wages; added to this, urban dwellers are becoming increasingly distanced from the rural way of life.

Farming and agriculture, the beating heart of many of these rural communities, is about to undergo its most profound series of changes in a century which will prove challenging for the rural economy.

Yet rural communities have always been many of our most resilient, taking challenges and change in their stride and welcoming the influx of new blood, which brings energy and new ways of thinking to their communities. They foster independent businesses, encourage tourism and an active leisure population, and many are well positioned to benefit from new inclusive technologies, with a focus on the power of the collective and local.

Professor Skerratt’s Recharging Rural report is to look at these challenges, as well as those which may arise in the future, with a focus on communities currently not engaged in “empowerment networks”.

Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, said: “Since HRH The Prince of Wales set up the Fund in 2010, we have worked in many ways to support rural communities and businesses, from our grant programme giving out over £1.2 million each year, to our direct delivery initiatives such as The Prince’s Farm Resilience Programme.

“We have learnt that many of the challenges facing rural communities are specific, and solutions applied to aid social cohesion in urban areas are not always replicable here. We are delighted to be working with Professor Skerratt and the team at SRUC, and look forward to this research producing tangible, practical solutions to help address some of the thorny issues facing the people who live and work in the British countryside.”

Professor Skerratt said: “I am thrilled to have been selected to work with The Prince’s Countryside Fund to deliver this critically important piece of research. What makes this research particularly exciting is that, while it will deliver an increased, shared understanding across Wales, Northern Ireland, England and Scotland, it will also assist the strategic approach of The Prince’s Countryside Fund to plan and deliver its future support to rural communities for years to come. I therefore feel immensely privileged to have this opportunity to work with people across the UK to identify ways forward into 2030 and beyond.”

The research will be published in July, to coincide with The Prince’s Countryside Fund annual awareness campaign, National Countryside Week, Monday 30th July to Sunday 5th August 2018.

To find out more about Recharging Rural, visit the Research section of our website here.

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