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April 2021 Rural Services Partnership Spotlight

Welcome to the April 2021 Rural Services Partnership Spotlight

In this edition we showcase the diverse work undertaken by member organisations, in rural areas across the country featuring articles on rural buses, community led housing, services for vulnerable customers, pubs tacking loneliness, rural enterprise and rural health and more. We also welcome new members and remind you about free online events coming up. Happy reading!

New Members
The RSP, in partnership with the Rural Health & Care Alliance (RHCA), continues to increase its membership! The latest to join are detailed below click on the organisation logo to find out more about each organisation.

Free online seminars and events
We have a fantastic range of online seminars planned for this year, covering all things rural.  Events still to come include rural health and care; rural housing; enabling rural business, rural town centres and rural economies. Click here to view the full programme and book. 

We also have a special session lined up for Monday 10 May with DCMS to raise the importance of key issues surrounding digital connectivity in rural areas and lack of broadband. Click here to book. 

Remember all events are free of charge to our members.

Keep your stories coming
We’re always keen to promote our member organisations, so if you have an article you would like to feature in either a future Spotlight, or our weekly Rural Services Network e-bulletin, please email to


New Report into the Impacts of a Reduction in Bus Services Published by The Women’s Institute
On 20 April, the National Federation of Women’s Institutes (NFWI) launched its new report: A New Route for Local Bus Services.
This forms part of the WI’s Get on Board campaign, which calls on the Government and local authorities to work in partnership with bus companies and community transport operators to enable an adequate provision of services.
The new report aims to build understanding of the impacts of cuts to bus services on women and people living in rural areas and also explores the impacts of a significant reduction in local bus services on mental health, isolation and social exclusion, and sets out recommendations for future action.
The findings showed that only 18 % - less than one in five – of survey respondents living in rural areas in the UK say they have access to a frequent, reliable bus service.  Furthermore, 25% of those respondents said that cuts to bus services have made them feel more isolated, and 19% said their mental health had been negatively affected. Cuts to bus services have also meant a decrease in being able to connect to other transport services and, as a result, 72% said that their dependency on using a car and reliance on family and friends had increased.
Read more

South East Water
Times are tough at the moment, and many people may find themselves struggling financially or feeling vulnerable in some way. That’s why South East Water has a range of customer support services and tariffs in place to provide extra support – both financially and practically.
Getting the message out about this support to as many communities as possible is vital, which is why we’re always on the lookout for partnerships and collaborations with organisations who can help us spread the word. We not only provide an efficient, safe and quality water service, we also deliver a number of initiatives that are designed to help those in need in the areas we serve.
Read more

Pub is The Hub continues to engage publicans around societal loneliness
Pub is The Hub, the not-for-profit organisation that helps pubs to diversify and provide essential local services, continues to drive its ‘Join Inn – Last Orders for Loneliness’ campaign forward. The campaign, which was launched in late 2019, specifically looks to support publicans and their communities to become better connected, helping local people feel less isolated and, in the process helping to alleviate loneliness.
New initiatives in the ‘Join Inn’ campaign include a ‘Guide for Publicans’ which can be downloaded here
The guide aims to help publicans make a difference to someone’s day and help tackle loneliness in their communities.
Read more

Reflecting on the first few months of NICRE
It has been a productive first eight months at the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise (NICRE) since our official ‘start’ in September last year and we wanted to update you on what has been happening.
Firstly, let us recap on what NICRE is. We are a hub of research excellence, knowledge exchange and impact, focusing on:

  • Undertaking and commissioning new research to fill gaps in our current knowledge of rural enterprise and innovation
  • Developing practical solutions with businesses, rural communities and economic development agencies
  • Providing evidence to inform better policy and support for rural businesses

Read more

Mountain Medicine Phd Opportunity
Applicants are invited for a PhD studentship in the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine within the Faculty of Clinical and Biomedical Sciences. The studentship is tenable for 3 years full time (subject to satisfactory progress). Both Home/EU and International applicants may apply. The studentship will provide an annual stipend of £15,285 (subject to satisfactory progress) in addition to course fees.  It is expected that the successful applicant will commence on 1st September 2021.   
Project Title: Can global consensus be arrived at as to the essential components of training for ensuring confident and effective medical practice in remote settings?
Read more

Bespoke high streets regeneration and social infrastructure support and follow up grant
This support is for groups wanting to bring forward schemes that will foster high street regeneration or provide useful social infrastructure. You do not need to be eligible for technical support to unlock this package.
If successful, you will be eligible for bespoke facilitation and, if through this support it is determined that you are likely to succeed with your proposal, there will be an opportunity to apply for a follow up grant of up to £15,000.
Read more

Lincolnshire Refugee Doctors Project
The numbers of Doctors has increased from 12 to 23, with the project having also been expanded to Lincoln as well as the original location of Grimsby. The programme over the last few months has successfully recruited both social mentor volunteers and English Language volunteers who are actively supporting programme members.
Throughout the COVID period 9 of our Doctors have actively supported local hospitals by carrying out Medical Support Worker roles which has helped support the NHS through what has been a hugely challenging period. The Doctors who have carried out these roles have also benefitted hugely by having the opportunity to work in a key role in under supervision whilst on our programme.
Read more

NHS services celebrate partnership with Hovertravel for the benefit of the Isle of Wight residents
The Isle of Wight NHS Trust and a local Island Company Hovertravel have celebrated a partnership which has contributed significantly to the local community. Working closely with the NHS they have developed the Island Rescue service which allows transfers of patients from the Isle of Wight to hospitals in Portsmouth or Southampton significantly reducing transfer times.
Pre covid-19 stretcher patient transfers had been taken in ambulance via the car ferry, a return journey of 4- 6 hours. Following trials with Hovertravel, and working with the South Central Ambulance service, it was established that Hovertravel’s Island Rescue service would provide the quickest option for stretcher patient transfer during the initial lockdown.
The short crossing time meant the ambulance crew are off-island for a much shorter time, as the organised patient handover to the South Central Ambulance Service at Hovertravel’s pad in Southsea means the IOW NHS Trust Ambulance Crew can make an immediate return trip to the island.  Over four hours per crossing are saved and this means the ambulance crew are once again available to help patients on the Island.
Read more

First Bus: Innovating to instil confidence in everyone
As the UK starts to emerge from staggered lockdowns and more people return to commuting, it’s perhaps more important than ever that everyone has the confidence and choice to consider bus travel and thus play their own part in reducing emissions by leaving the car at home.
At First Bus, one of the UK’s largest operators, we recognise the need to extend our tools and support to include all of our customers, taking account of any particular needs they may have.
Whilst the pandemic has brought a multitude of challenges with it, First Bus, saw it as a catalyst to expedite some of the tech support already in development for its customers. This included an update to its mobile app  to live track not only the location of their next bus but also its available capacity, including that of wheelchair spaces across its fleet. This important innovation makes bus travel easier by tracking wheelchair capacity through an icon that moves across a virtual map.
The update forms part of a fast-tracked investment in the app which has seen First Bus become the first UK bus operator to not only allow bus passengers to live track the location of their next bus, but also show its capacity in ‘real time’
Read more

How affordable rural homes change lives and communities (New Forest Focus)
English Rural held the first of a series of planned, regional webinars which focused on how affordable rural housing changes lives and communities. The first session had a particular focus on the New Forest. Please do watch the video below and find out how small-scale, affordable rural homes really do change lives
Read more

Dispensing Doctors’ Association
Health and wellbeing boards (HWBs) in England find themselves with an extra six months in which to prepare their local pharmaceutical needs assessment (PNA) – a process that allows local health and wellbeing service coordinators to reconsider the adequacy of their pharmacy network in light of changes to the local demography.
In view of COVID-19, the deadline for producing the 2021 PNA has now been extended to October, with a view to introduction from April 2022.
For dispensing practices – GPs that dispense medicines in rural locations where pharmacies are not viable – PNAs are important documents because they set out in black and white the areas in which a dispensing practice can actually operate (officially known as a ‘controlled locality’) and they acknowledge the services that a dispensing practice offers - albeit that when assessing the need for a new pharmacy that may replace a GP dispensing service, this aspect of the PNA does not carry as much weight in England as it does in Wales. 
Read more


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