Hinterland - 23 May 2023

In Hinterland this week, a rare traditional rural skill area in training decline, the importance of museums to local economies, can Government really address the causal link around suicides? Alms houses are conversely good for your health, budget pressures facing schools and finally we end with a lot of hot air!!                    

*         *          *

Capel Manor: UK’s only saddle-making course at risk

A sad little starting point for Hinterland this week – lets hope this urban based but rurally relevant course survives!

Capel Manor College in Enfield, north London, is home to the UK’s only saddle-making course.

About 10 students from around the world graduate from the course every year, with many going on to work with horses, in fashion or even in film.

But it is now under threat due to a lack of funding.


Museum of the Year: Natural History Museum among nominees for £120,000 prize

This article makes me reflect on the really important role of local heritage in rural (in this case Orkney) settings.

The Natural History Museum in London and Orkney's former Royal Navy base at Scapa Flow are in the running to be named the UK's Museum of the Year.

They are joined on the shortlist for the £120,000 award by Glasgow's Burrell Collection and the MAC in Belfast.

Leighton House, located in London's Holland Park, completes the five-strong shortlist.

The winner will be announced at the British Museum on 12 July, with the four runners-up receiving £15,000 each.

The 2023 prize marks the 10th year of Art Fund's Museum of the Year, which aims to champion the UK's 2,500 museums, galleries and heritage sites.


Labour wants NHS to tackle heart and suicide deaths

Suicides in rural settings are a big issue and whilst we should absolutely not suggest one tragedy is any less serious than another their relative high incidence in farming communities makes this policy agenda, without taking political sides, interesting!

A Labour government would aim to reduce deaths from heart disease and strokes by a quarter over 10 years and see suicide figures decline within five.

The Labour leader is giving a speech on the party's NHS policy later.

Labour's new targets for the health service will be part of a wider package of reforms if it is elected, Sir Keir will say, with a focus on modernisation, hitting existing cancer targets, and cutting waiting lists.

He will say it is "not serious" to argue the health service's problems can be solved with extra funding, and call for "serious, deep, long-term changes".

More than 5,500 deaths were registered as suicides in England and Wales in 2021, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) - around three quarters of which were men. Women under the age of 24 have seen the largest increase of any group since data started being collected in 1981, an ONS study found in 2022.


Almshouse residents may live up to two and a half years longer, study finds

I would have guessed this might be the case but a really interesting piece of research which tells us:

Poor, older people living in almshouses enjoy longer lives than far wealthier people living elsewhere, a study has found.

The secret to longer life has been intensely sought after for centuries. But research using data from almshouses going back 100 years has found that the solution devised in early medieval times to help poverty-stricken knights returning from the Crusades is still relevant today.

The report from the Bayes Business School says the longevity of those who move into one of the UK’s 30,000 almshouses – the oldest form of social housing – is boosted by as much as two and a half years.

Given that residents typically move into almshouses in their early 70s, this is equivalent to an extra 15% of future life.


Class sizes in England could go up to 60 warn heads in funding pay row

I am not sure enough has been done to work out the spatial dimension of the current challenges facing rural schools in overview. This makes this a very interesting article. In speaking of local school funding challenges it tells us:

A senior leader in a large multi-academy trust, speaking anonymously to avoid alarming parents, said: “We will be forced to collapse classes. I’m looking at going from 10 sets to eight in maths and English, with a top set of up to 50 or even 60 kids in a big space.”

The leader said they were already having to “double up classes” to cover absences, and this would get worse. One of their secondary academies had 15 staff off last week, with stress-related illness noticeably on the rise.

“The senior team has been teaching 100 kids a time in the hall to relieve pressure on teachers,” he said. “Cover lessons make behaviour worse.”

As well as cutting less popular sixth-form subjects and increasing A-level class sizes – in some cases to twice the optimal number of pupils – he is considering cutting costs by starting the school day late or finishing early once a week.

He said: “If we have another year of this underfunding, by next year I think you’ll have lots of schools going to a four-day week because they can’t afford to teach for five.”


And Finally

Hot air balloon interrupts Sussex kids cricket match

As always I like a balloon based rural story! This tells us:

We've heard of rain or bad light stopping play, but never a hot air balloon.

But that is exactly what happened during a cricket match in West Sussex.

Chiddingfold U10s were playing Blackheath U10s at Lurgashall, in Chichester, when the interruption occurred.

Jim Stather, who was watching the match and filmed the scene on Wednesday evening, said: “It came swooping over the roof tops and landed on the pitch whilst the children were playing cricket. I have never seen anything like this."


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


Sign up to our newsletter to receive all the latest news and updates.