Rural Wisdom

Rural Wisdom is the project that listens to the voices of older people and empowers them to lead change in rural communities across the UK.

Rural Wisdom is a space for older people in rural Scotland and Wales. It began as a project to find out how rural commutes included and supported people as they got older, with 5 years funding from the National Lottery Community Fund. We developed Rural Wisdom as a partnership project between Outside the Box, Volunteering Matters Cymru and the National Development Team for inclusion. Our three organisations worked closely together to listen to older people in rural communities and empower them to deliver effective social change.

From early 2022 it continues to be a way to raise awareness and share learning and practical examples around ways rural communities work for everyone, including older people.

Rural Wisdom, Older people shaping rural communities. Owl logo, in English and Welsh

What we're doing

From 2017-2021 we worked in 5 local communities in Scotland and our partner worked in 4 communities in Wales.

Visit the Rural Wisdom local communities page to explore the geographic areas of impact.

We developed resources, held workshops on issues that affect people in many locations, enabling co-operation between communities. We helped local people develop and share their work and ideas on issues like climate change, social care, and rural transport solutions.

Visit the Rural Wisdom Resources: Videos and Podcasts page to watch the webinars and videos on issues that matter to Older People in Rural communities.

Listening to rural communities

Rural Wisdom created spaces for older people and others in rural communities to have a say. We complemented and supported all routes for people to contribute their views and ideas. We championed issues that mattered to older people living in rural communities, even though they may not have been traditionally be thought of as older people’s issues. As the project progressed a wider range of people, of all ages, got involved. 

Supporting age friendly communities

Rural Wisdom helped people come up with practical solutions that still continue to make life easier for people. We got new things started and support existing activities to adapt. We used our platforms and connections to showcase the many ways in which older people contribute to their communities. This helped people to find more ways to lead and supported others to get involved along the way.

Sharing learning

Rural Wisdom was specifically designed to evolve and grow over the five years it was funded. People told us about the positive impact that was made through our shared learning. It created more opportunities for people to support, encourage, and learn from each other across communities. We continue to offer space for people to hear about what is happening in other areas and learn from what other people find useful. We make connections and work with new and existing partners who are working on issues that matter to people living in rural areas.

The impact it's having so far

Our achievements by January 2022 – the end of the main project – included:

  • Involving over 8,000 people in local communities
  • People feeling they have a stronger voice and are influencing changes that benefit them and other people
  • Helping new community groups get started and existing ones keep going
  • Activities that benefit older people and activities for the whole community
  • 20,000 people benefitting from the services and activities communites developed
  • People having more social connections, better wellbeing and feeling more confident
  • Bringing in £390,000 in grants for local communities and helping local groups secure another £740,000
  • Raising issues such as fuel poverty and ways to get better community transport that affect older people in many parts of the UK
  • Contributing to policy making in Scotland and Wales to ensure long-lasting national impact
  • Bringing people together in an informal network of connected communities – people plan to keep working together over the next few years


Visit the Rural Wisdom Evaluations, Change Stories and Case Studies page to learn more about Rural Wisdom and the difference it made for people and communities.


evaluation report cover

Rural Wisdom Scotland evaluation 2021

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Delivering Presentations and Training

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Rural Wisdom tips for getting people involved

Tips for Getting People Involved

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Older People in Rural Communities – Note for Local Areas

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