Rural Wisdom Areas of Impact
Rural Wisdom in local communities
From 2017-2021, Rural Wisdom worked with people in rural communities in Scotland and Wales.
Explore the different local areas of impact below to find out what they've been doing and learning.
Leeswood and Pontblyddyn are two small rural villages in Flintshire nestled between Wrexham, the largest town in North Wales, and the smaller market town of Mold. This was one of the areas that featured in stage one of the Rural Wisdom project from 2017 to 2019. So much was achieved during the first two years that additional funding was secured from the County Council to extend the project to October 2020.
How it all began
Working closely with local councillors and other support providers, our work in Leeswood and Pontblyddyn began with detailed conversations with those in the community in order to establish what was working well in the area and what could be improved with support from Rural Wisdom. We attended community meetings, visited every local community group, spoke with people at the local carnival and sent out questionnaires.
It was clear that the community wanted more social gatherings and intergenerational activities that would lead to an improved sense of cohesion across the community. It was felt that the only time groups came together was for fundraising and locals wanted an opportunity to come together without a financial imperative.
Thanks to support from local people, a disused space in the local community centre was transformed into a community café. Pizza and cake were exchanged for time and effort, and the entire community got involved redecorating and converting the space. The café is run completely by volunteers and has been a huge success. The café has been open one morning a week from 9am until 12noon for almost three years and is incredibly popular. The space is used by any and all members of the community, including many regulars, and provides a safe space for people of all ages to spend time together over a cuppa.
Lunch and Learn
Once a month, older people in the community have lunch at the local primary school as a means of developing intergenerational ties in the area and providing a much-needed opportunity for social interaction. Working with the school liaison officer we secured funding for 28 locals to attend a two-course lunch followed by tea, coffee and biscuits. The school children set the table, greet the guests and wait the tables, as well as give artwork or a card for each of the attendees to take home. Through this initiative the children grew pumpkins and were taught to make soup with them when harvested which then appeared on the lunch menu for their visitors.
Upon receiving grant funding of £150 from Age Cymru, the community decided to host a traditional Sunday carvery expecting around 30 people. What began as a small event for 30 quickly grew and 100 locals attended the event which still ran to budget. The community centre donated the space, locals donated raffle prizes, a local chef did all the cooking, a local woman made cakes for everyone and a local band played for free so that this could become a real community event.
What we achieved
In addition to providing practical opportunities for people to come together, the project gave an economic boost to the area. All of the funds raised through these initiatives and others such as pop-up cinemas and afternoon teas is continually reinvested back into the community in ways that are chosen and delivered by local people. So far, the project has funded tablet courses for local people, paid for a drama practitioner to deliver dementia awareness work in the local school and donated much needed funds to the community centre which received no income during the Covid 19 lockdown of summer 2020.
Milford and its environs boast a population of around 13,000. The town is largely disconnected; it is 100 miles west of Cardiff and in a rural county with very few services and transport links. The decline of the fishing industry and high street in the town centre are among many changes that have been difficult for local people to adjust to. Milford Haven was one of the areas that featured in stage one of the Rural Wisdom project from 2017 to 2019.
How it all began
Our work in Milford Haven began with detailed conversations with local residents in order to establish what was working well in the area and what could be improved with support from Rural Wisdom. We attended events in the town hall, at the Pill Social Centre, the library and Milford Youth Matters among others. As well attending meetings and events in these community spaces, we also carried out leaflet drops, email newsletters and held get-togethers and activities, using small sums of project money to kickstart activity.
In Milford Haven, the main feeling was that people did not really know what was going on in the town. The key area the community identified as being a priority for Rural Wisdom involvement was to improve communication throughout the community so that residents were better informed as to what was taking place in the area and the ways in which they could get involved. Better communication directly improved access to the activities and services in the area because people knew about them.
What’s On event listing
People felt disconnected from what was going on in their town. With a significant population of older people who neither went to the library or the leisure centre, did not read the local newspaper or any form of digital information, being able to pick up an event listing gave them a vital means of connection to their community. We designed the What’s On event listing to be delivered in limited numbers of hard copies and shared widely online through a burgeoning email network. The email network grew as more residents became aware of the service and wanted to get involved. Once Rural Wisdom established the What’s On guide, it was subsequently taken on by Milford Youth Matters and two years after the completion of Rural Wisdom’s involvement in the area, it is going strong.
Connecting social groups with volunteers
By giving voice to the needs of older residents in the area, Rural Wisdom highlighted the need for volunteers and community members to get involved. By highlighting areas of needs, we were able to connect volunteers to social groups and initiatives such as the PALs scheme and Monday Knitting Group. By ensuring the continued delivery of these services there was a more bustling social scene in the area and attendance was grown through promotion in the What’s On event listing.
What we achieved
It was felt that the town and its community deserved some attention having lost most of its fishing fleet and following a big petrochemical company having recently left the area. By being active in the community and providing a means of connecting people we were able to dramatically reduce feelings of isolation amongst older residents. Improving access to information led to greater uptake of activities and services throughout the community highlighting the importance of older voices and the progress that can be achieved by their inclusion in planning community life.
In the early part of 2019, four get-togethers were held on the Dale Peninsula to establish whether Rural Wisdom could be of use to the communities of Dale village, Marloes and St Ishmaels. From Dale, it is over 10 miles both to Haverfordwest and to Milford Haven. Many people on the peninsula travel to Milford to see their GP or shop, whilst a trip to Haverfordwest is necessary for other services. Work in The Dale Peninsula took place during stage two of the Rural Wisdom project from 2019 to 2021.
How it all began
In May 2019 our team launched the Rural Wisdom project in the area alongside evaluation partners NDTi. Information events were held at community venues and leaflet drops were carried out to encourage people to come along and learn about the project and its aims. At these events multiple conversations were had with local people about what could be done to help them to live well.
It was clear from our research that older people in the community were suffering from a degree of social isolation. Moreover, a large proportion of second homes in this beautiful part of the county meant that there was not much going on in the winter months. One of the main improvements locals sought to the area was an increase in available activities and opportunities for lifelong learning, as well as support to access these events and initiatives. Working alongside local organisations including the Community Connector team we focussed particularly on how to do more to make the winter more tolerable for older people.
Dale Winter Warmers
The Dale Winter Warmers was a routine of regular activities jointly delivered by Rural Wisdom and the Community Connector team. On the Dale Peninsula, a number of local people from the three villages were able to come together safely for fun activities. These gatherings also provided an opportunity to connect these people with vital advice and information. An email network was also developed there so that locals could remain informed about relevant news and events from home to keep them engaged with the wider community.
Community transport initiative
Our research highlighted that some people were willing to offer lifts and this offered a great opportunity for drivers in the three villages to get involved with a new community transport initiative being developed by PACTO (Pembrokeshire Association of Community Transport Organisations). Connecting local people to a wider range of events and activities in the area improves social connection amongst groups and gives individuals the chance to access improved support services.
What we achieved
By designing and delivering a wide range of regular activities across the community built specifically for and by older residents, we were able to reduce the isolation of those in the area who had previously felt there was little for them to do. Connecting people through soup and sandwich events, information days and mystery bus tours among other things provided much needed social connection during the difficult winter months.
Holywell is a market town in North East Wales in the county of Flintshire. The town is divided into four main areas as well as several smaller surrounding villages with a cumulative population of around 8,000 people. Our work focussed on the area of Holway during stage two of the Rural Wisdom project from 2019 – 2021.
How it all began
Following an information campaign of leaflet drops and posters in local businesses and community spaces like the library, our work in Holywell began with a launch event run alongside NDTi at the local leisure centre. This gave us the opportunity to speak directly to those in the local area to find out what was working well in their community and what they felt Rural Wisdom might help to improve.
It was clear that while lots of work was being done to improve the Holway area, there was very little being done to improve the lives of older people. Feedback from the community was that there was a lack of collaboration due to feelings of social isolation, so a large part of our work was focussed upon breaking down barriers about participation, providing opportunity for social connection and encouraging locals to make an active contribution to the improvement of the area and their own lives. We joined a community improvement panel that met once a month to share the learning of what we were doing in the community and explore ways of working together to make an even bigger impact.
A series of small coffee mornings was organised in the local community centre providing an opportunity for social interaction. We also partnered with groups such as Warmer Wales and the local Job Centre so that local people could have access to important information and services while attending the coffee mornings.
A large number of older people in the community had to shield during 2020 due to the risks of Covid19 so a large part of our work involved supporting those that were self-isolating at home. Even as restrictions were eased, many people remained apprehensive about venturing out into the community. Our volunteers were able to provide ongoing telephone befriending, deliver shopping and medication. We secured donations of PPE so that our volunteers were kept as safe as possibly while doing this necessary work.
Community garden at Holway Hub House
We were invited to have a presence in the Holway Hub House. The house is a converted property within the Holway that provides advice and support to community members from a wide range of local authority and third sector organisations. A presence in the house gave us a fantastic opportunity to engage directly with younger and older community members and build connections with other agencies. Following a successful grant application to Keep Wales Tidy, we supported The Friends of Holway with setting up a butterfly garden as well as a vegetable patch and fruit trees in the garden of the Hub house. This space provided a vital opportunity to bring the community together, growing, cooking and eating local produce, as well as being a beautiful outdoor space to spend time in.
What we achieved
In addition to these highlights, we also provided opportunity for life-long learning in the form of tablet courses at the local library. The project also organised pop-up cinemas and craft days as a means of improving the social network of those living in the area. All of these initiatives have provided vital means of connection to relieve some of the isolation felt by many in the community previously.
Moray is an area that lies in the North East of Scotland. Work in Moray took place during stage two of the Rural Wisdom project from 2019 to 2021. Rural Wisdom Moray was most active in Burghead, Hopeman and Cummingston, the coastal communities north of Elgin. People in Moray asked to be part of the Rural Wisdom project as a way of taking forward ideas that people had been developing over the past few years. Local people and organisations had previously taken part in Rural Wisdom workshops, used publications, and found ideas from other places helpful, so wanted to be part of this wider partnership. The geographic scope of Rural Wisdom grew further as people in Moray raised issues that affected more people nearby. One of the impacts of Covid-19 was that more connections were made with people and community groups in Aberdeenshire as part of the work taking place in and around Moray.
How it all began
In June 2019 we started to work with the communities along the Moray Coast in collaboration with other local groups, local authority and community services, talking to as many people as possible about what worked well in their rural communities and what could be improved to make a real impact on their day-to-day lives. The strongest response was that to make things work for older people they needed to work for people of all ages. As the work progressed, we found that our role as a connector was one of the most beneficial parts of the project. Local groups such as Energising Moray and The Fairer Moray Forum Action Group had great ideas and big strategic plans, so we are supporting them to join the dots between ideas, inspiration, resources, and action.
Many local people raised several intersecting issues relating to energy provision, the most pressing of which was the desire for renewable energy alternatives to alleviate fuel insecurity and address global climate challenges. Additionally, providing support with transport and access to community spaces were equally pressing matters of importance to these communities. Given the impact of Covid19, focus was also on connecting people during a time of increased isolation and ensuring that everyone had the essentials they needed. Rural Wisdom supported the local response led by the quick-thinking and well-connected local community organisations such as The Burghead and Cummingston Community Council.
A creation of a small Community Bus service is a great example of the brilliant partnership work across the area. We introduced local groups to our Welsh colleagues at Pembrokeshire Association for Community Transport Organisations (PACTO) with a view to replicating the ‘Take Me Too’ lift sharing initiative. This helps local people get around and access vital services, support, and activities in the area. This was actioned by an energetic bus committee made up of Moray Council, tsiMoray, Rural Wisdom and local people, all committed to connecting communities physically, socially and intergenerationally. The initiative went on to be part of the local COVID response by transporting people to vaccination centres in Lossiemouth.
Energy and fuel
A survey on the issue of energy and fuel received an overwhelming response and provided vital information that was shared at conferences, and during conversations with Home Energy Scotland and local MSP Richard Lochead. An Energy Advice Event was also set up to assist people with the information necessary to access support. A number of steps to tackle this problem have been outlined, including the creation of a Development Trust and inclusion in the Scottish Government’s ‘Local Heat and Energy Efficiency Strategies’ (LHEES) pilot.
Opening up community spaces
In Cummingston there was a plan to take over the public toilet building at the beach via a lease or Community Asset Transfer. There was a real need for a community space in Cummingston as there was no public space at all and members of the community were keen to address this. Similarly, Hopeman had an unused library and school building that many would love to see used so Rural Wisdom is exploring what can be done with this resource.
What we achieved
Much was done in the immediate aftermath of the Covid19 pandemic to provide hands on support for those in the local community and to combat the isolation of this period. By taking a collaborative approach we have been able to involve hundreds of local people in the issues that are important to them. We have been able to connect people with national conversations and innovative ideas. This approach not only raises awareness of the local issues but takes steps towards long term solutions that will work for the entire area.
Eaglesham is a village in East Renfrewshire with a population of just over 3,100 people. Eaglesham was specifically chosen to be part of Rural Wisdom as they represented a different type of rural community. We wanted to include a rural community that was close to major towns and cities to see if this made any difference to the issues that they experienced. As we began getting to know the area local people told us that we should include the village of Waterfoot. There is only a mile between the two villages and are connected by sharing provisions like community council, library, school, and shops. Some of the topics we heard about were common to all Rural Wisdom areas and others were more specific to the more urban location. The villages featured in stage one of the Rural Wisdom project from 2017 to 2019.
How it all began
There was much collaboration in this area with local community group organisers and their members, people of all ages who lived locally, people who worked/owned local businesses, Community Council, representatives from local authority and other third sector organisations. We wanted to work together to understand the scope of what was working across all areas in the community, then identify and address the gaps that presented challenges for those in the area.
Feedback from the community highlighted that the villages were great places to live and people wanted to strengthen the community spirit that is already there. Local people sought more intergenerational activities and more opportunities for all members of the community to connect socially. Older people wanted to be involved and take a more active role in community life while challenging the stigma attached to being thought of as an older person. Furthermore, improving communication across the village and surrounding areas was vital because it helped connect those feeling geographically isolated, particularly in the winter months due to the steep, hilly streets, with activities and events that could help alleviate these feelings of disconnection.
In response to the challenges experienced by sheltered housing tenants in relation to access to facilities, the local school was used as an alternative space that older people could access without transport or support from volunteers. This started weekly activity sessions and developed into a successful ongoing relationship providing intergenerational contact within the community. Strengthening the relationship between the school and sheltered housing resulted in less segregation of community spaces made available to those who need them.
Sporting Memories Pilot & Community Memories Sessions
As part of our work in developing more connections, we partnered with Sporting Memories to run a series of taster sessions accessible to all older people, especially those who were living with dementia. This was the first rural group Sporting Memories had worked with, all other groups were previously in large towns or cities, so this was a positive milestone in encouraging others to ‘think rural’. The success of this pilot sparked an idea with the local history society who ran sessions for older people that were more than just reminiscence. The society had gaps in their records and many of the local older people were able to fill in these gaps in a way that was enjoyable and fulfilling for everyone involved. Reciprocity and shared interests are threads that runs through all our Rural Wisdom activity.
Connecting people with local solutions
Part of the work we did in the area was to connect people with local organisations that offered solutions to the challenges we were hearing about. For example, we explored local fruit and vegetable delivery services as an alternative to a long bus journey to visit the supermarket in the next town, after the village greengrocers closed. We introduced Driving Miss Daisy to local people; an innovative transport and companion service that provided practical support. We worked alongside East Renfrewshire Culture and Leisure to connect local people with more opportunities in the arts, leisure, and technology.
What we achieved
In addition to these important initiatives, workshops were delivered that enabled local older people to raise and discuss important issues, and feed into strategies and policy areas such as human rights, social isolation and transport. The project also provided dementia sensory training for all East Renfrewshire sheltered housing wardens.
We used our learning from Rural Wisdom to develop our follow-up project Community Connections which focussed on improving social connections, communication and information. The project ran from 2019 until 2021, working with local people to develop a new community group forum, a community newsletter and installation of two new outdoor noticeboards. You can read more about Community Connections on the Outside the Box website https://otbds.org/projects/community-connections/
Local people were excited to be part of a national project whose impact extended far beyond the village. They have continued to stay involved in the project contributing to our shared learning events, national gatherings and developing friendships right across Scotland and Wales.
Highland Perthshire, the area west of the A9, was one of the first areas that Rural Wisdom worked in between 2017 and 2019. Within this area, the main communities we worked with were Aberfeldy, Kenmore, Fortingall, Glen Lyon, Kinloch Rannoch, Grandtully, Strathtay and Amulree.
How it all began
The project began by telling people about the Rural Wisdom project and that we wanted to hear from them. As well as sharing information on community noticeboards, e-newsletters and through Facebook, we put a piece in the local magazine the Quair as people said this was the best way to reach people across the area. Over the summer of 2017 we met with 17 community groups, 8 groups of local people attending group activities, attended 4 gala days, Highland Games and 4 Community Councils. Overall, we met over 175 people who live or work in this community, as well as people from other rural locations, all of whom raised similar themes.
Feedback from those we met made clear that Highland Perthshire was a welcoming and friendly place that values the strength of its communities. Older people wanted to be heard, to continue being an active part of this and to remain independent. People wanted to have better access to more flexible support in the area. Community facilities were good, and people valued them, but there were barriers of use and older people were looking for more access to computers. Informal routes for information and communication worked well but poor access to broadband was a major problem for the area. People wanted to be part of building connections in the community, including between people moving to the area and those already living there, and between older people living in settings like care homes and the wider community.
Activities to provide social connection
Local people wanted more options for social connections so we supported the delivery of activities in the community where people could meet regularly including community wide intergenerational events at the weekend. There was a specific focus on including those living in the local care home in activities, as well as designing events that would appeal to men in the area and get them involved. Local groups like Bridge for Beginners and the Men’s Shed were encouraged to implement taster and beginners’ sessions, to get more people along and involved.
Making the area work better for residents
Local shops and businesses were asked to review access to their building and parking to ensure that facilities were as accessible as possible for people of all ages and abilities within the community. We also designed and delivered a lift share scheme to improve options for local transport. The scheme also focussed on raising awareness of the mobility challenges of older people even though they do not have an official Blue Badge. As part of this initiative, we also collaborated with Living Streets to raise awareness about making the centre of Aberfeldy safer and easier for pedestrians.
Access to important information
We ensured important information on money matters, managing fuel allowances, and how to protect yourself from scams was circulated. Information was prepared and shared on practical ways to open food packaging and prepare food to help people stay independent. The initiative also provided support for people when they wanted to apply for Blue Badges.
What we achieved
The developments in Highland Perthshire ensured that the community became one that works for older people and has a positive impact on everyone living in the area. By improving communication and access to services, older people were better supported and able to live fuller lives more independently.
Following on from our ‘Let’s Talk Transport’ event the Upper Tay Transport Group was created. The group went on to host a follow-up ‘Shout About Transport’ event; increased training opportunities for volunteer minibus drivers; and developed a transport survey. They also produced a film, timetable, and leaflet called ‘Having Fun on the 91’ to inspire people to use the existing bus service.
Along with the Care and Wellbeing Co-op we supported the development of a new project called Support Choices. They offer a free independent service in Highland Perthshire, helping to support people through the process of getting Self-directed Support. Support Choices have gone on to become an independent organisation and is a member of Self-Direct Support Scotland (SDSS). For more information about Support Choices or Self-Directed Support you can visit www.supportchoices.co.uk
North Angus shares borders with Aberdeenshire to the north and Perthshire to the west, southwards it faces Dundee, with many accessing services there such as Ninewells Hospital. The area has a mix of rural farming and coastal communities. Rural Wisdom worked in the settlements of Brechin, Edzell and the surrounding areas during stage one of the project from 2017 to 2019. The area has a population of 11,396 (2016 figures), approximately 22% of whom are pensionable age.
How it all began
During our initial conversations with over 400 people and groups across the community, we used a creative approach to engage with people called “The Potting Shed”. This encouraged local people to imagine their community as a garden and asked specific questions in the form of the gardening metaphor; blooming – what is working well, nurturing – what exists but needs support, sown – what do we need to develop, challenges – what do we need to watch out for. This method proved popular with many enthusiastic about this creative approach and eager to share their thoughts.
It was clear from our many conversations with those in the area that older people wanted to be part of the discussions about the future of the area and to be involved in the developments so they could make a direct contribution. Local people expressed frustration at the lack of communication about events and activities. Many felt that they only found out about them after the fact when they appeared in the paper, so we wanted to create a more effective communications network for information to be shared in a variety of ways. We worked to develop good relationships with groups who were already active in the area by attending community councils and locality integration meetings and so we could fully understand the challenges and opportunities.
Local groups were encouraged to implement a more inclusive approach through the use of taster sessions and sessions specifically designed for beginners, to get more people along and involved. Groups were also given support to get people of all age involved to create an intergenerational aspect to the activities taking place within the community there. These areas are so small it was felt that it was important to develop a culture of collaboration in all areas across all age groups.
Keeping active and connected
More community activities were created specifically for older people, both those who needed a level of care and support and those who were managing at home, such as the singing group, and the tea dances we hosted in partnership with Edzell Village Improvement Society. We also worked to get older people involved in more physical activities like swimming and walking in the local area to help improve physical and mental health. Activities were also created for older people in the evening but not too late at night to ensure they were always accessible as safely and easily as possible. Using local resources we hosted a pop-up shop and Community Conversation session.
What we achieved
By improving access to activities and events delivered at suitable times and in accessible formats, more people from the community came together more regularly to enjoy the benefits of improved social connections. The activities started through Rural Wisdom, like the singing group, have continued to keep going, now being organised by members and local community volunteers. Increasing awareness of the activities and opportunities available meant that attendance was improved as more local people knew what the area had to offer. By creating connections between generations within the area, it felt that investment was being made in the future and everyone within the community had equal opportunity to participate and enjoy the benefits of living there.
We continued the theme of social connections and information through our follow-up project Community Connections. The project worked alongside local organisations who we developed relationships with through Rural Wisdom – like Angus Council Communities Team and Kirrie Connections – to enhance and compliment what they were already doing, supporting them to reach more people and become more sustainable through covid-19 and beyond. You can read more about Community Connections by visiting https://otbds.org/projects/community-connections/
Scottish Borders is in the South East of Scotland and is made up of small towns and large remote rural areas. Work with Rural Wisdom took place during stage two of the Rural Wisdom project from 2019 to 2021. It built upon the earlier Happiness Habits and Flourishing Borders projects which were ran by Outside the Box, the lead partner for Rural Wisdom in Scotland.
How it all began
We spoke with people across the Borders, working in partnership with local organisations, and using our existing networks and relationships. Our event at MacArts in Galashiels was supported by Borders Care Voice and created the opportunity to have more detailed conversations with local people about how the project could work to improve life for older people across the area.
We decided to take a slightly different approach to Rural Wisdom in the Borders and spent more time working across the whole area, rather than focussing on specific villages from the start. After around eight months spent talking to different individuals and groups within the communities in the Borders, it became evident that the issues experienced across the region were broadly the same.
In several areas we heard that older people wanted to improve relationships with younger people in the community so there was also demand for better access to more intergenerational activities. In many Borders villages isolation from events and services due to poor or non-existent transport links, and a lack of support for volunteers were the two main themes that arose. Over time we began to work closely with Newtown St Boswells, Eildon and Bowden – these villages have been the ongoing focus of our work in the Borders, mirroring our approach elsewhere in Scotland and Wales.
We hosted a series of events across the Borders that brought together local people and groups to discuss the issues and potential solutions. We drew upon our relationships with transport organisations across Scotland and Wales to bring their experience and knowledge to our conversations. Our friends at Pembrokeshire Association of Community Transport Organisations (PACTO) travelled up to share the approaches that are working for them. We developed our transport survey, and in partnership with Borders Buses and Scottish Borders Older Peoples Champion we developed a community film ‘Travel with Confidence’ in response to what we were hearing during covid-19.
Digital access became an increasingly important issue during 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The Digital Buddies project supports older people in the Scottish Borders to digitally connect to friends, family, groups, their communities & the wider world. They are supported by a Buddy (friend, family member or another community member) as well as given the technology to get started. The buddies have allowed the project to take a very personalised approach and support older people to do what’s important to them, that’s everything from online shopping to community council meetings, to Netflix.
Seasonal Activities in Newtown St.Boswells, Eildon and Bowden
One of the most effective ways Rural Wisdom had impact across these villages was by supporting a range of seasonal activities that encouraged more effective and more regular social connections. This was at a time of increased isolation across the whole community due to the implications of Covid19.
At Halloween, guising became impossible due to government guidance, so we provided an alternative, of an outdoor pumpkin trail and children’s goody-bags donated by the community. Handmade poppy decorations were hung for Remembrance Sunday and St Andrews Day was celebrated with a virtual Highland Hustle hosted by Rural Wisdom. This replaced the cancelled community ceilidh at a time where people were needing a sense of connection more than ever. The theme of connection continued into the festive season as local people nominated neighbours and community members to receive small gifts donated by the community.
What we achieved
We developed and supported a range of different activities and events aimed at bringing people of all ages together across the various communities that make up the Scottish Borders. As well as this, our work in the area also raised important issues like transport to local authorities, community councils and other supporting organisations who are working to improve access to services. We also trialled a newsletter to be delivered to houses in Newtown and Eildon from early 2021 to improve communication and ensure everyone is aware of the activities and support available to them in these areas.
We have continued to build strong partnerships with groups and individuals such as Borders Older Peoples Forum, Eildon Housing Association, Berwickshire Housing Association, Borders Care Voice and Older Peoples Champion to ensure local support for older people leading the way.
Working across Scotland and Wales
Rural Wisdom was a community development and shared learning project whose impact went far beyond the specific communities we directly supported. The projects supported by our Community Development Workers in Scotland and Wales provided inspiration for others across the UK, helping improve the lives of older people and others living in rural communities.
This involved creating opportunities for people to make connections and contribute to the conversation.
In addition to the specific communities of impact supported by our team, we also worked in other areas across Scotland. Our work in other communities was aimed at identifying if these areas faced similar issues to those we were already hearing about. We also worked hard to share our learning and approaches that we found were working well. For example, in January 2019 we hosted a joint workshop in Pembrokeshire that included speakers from Highland Perthshire who shared how they are developing community based social care.
Rural Wisdom continues to be a conduit for change as we connect those with the means to improve rural communities with the people who live there. Our activities provided the evidence for policy change and our local, regional and national gatherings provide a means of enacting this change by bringing it to the attention of policy makers and other key influencers across government.
Our work involved collaboration and participation with hundreds of important partners across the country from funders to community councils to volunteer organisations and everything in between. We could not have the impact we do without the support from these incredible organisations and teams, committed to supporting rural communities. Rural Wisdom was designed to be a flexible project evolving over the 5-years, and it continues to do so with the ongoing support of our partners.