Hinterland - Friday, 23 February, 2018

In Hinterland this week: the death of the local paper, compassion in Frome, the Education review, dementia friendly Scotland, Minette Batters at the helm at the NFU and cause for optimism if you get lost in the great outdoors in Derbyshire.

We were also notified of this example of linking up NHS and Adult Social Care at HQ this week – the materials are worth engaging with and the background to the piece is set out below:

"A chance meeting between a District Council chief executive and a GP resulted in a health coach pilot going district wide with the potential of benefiting thousands of patients in a rural area.

"Angela, who eighteen months ago lost her husband Allan after 53 years of marriage, was supported by a health coach referral scheme – an example of the success that comes with integrated care."

A good video explaining how this happened is here.

*         *          *

The death of the local newspaper?

I think there is important mileage in this review. I suspect social media has done for most very local papers now. At the micro end of the extreme though I would like to make a plug for parish papers and news sheets, which are still going strong and tell you a heck of a lot about tiny rural communities.

The government has announced a review into the future of the newspaper industry, warning the closure of hundreds of regional papers is fuelling fake news and is “dangerous for democracy”. But is it too late to save local newspapers?

There’s a spot just off the M6 in Coventry where you can time-travel into the 1950s.

Walking through beech-panelled boardrooms and a butler’s pantry you might not guess this was the Coventry Evening Telegraph for nearly half a century.

The rooms look abandoned mid-shift, as though the reporters have spiked their last story and walked out.

There’s a baseball cap on one of the old PCs, and old family photos on the desks.

The building was boarded up in 2012 when the paper finally left for more modern premises.

It’s due to be turned into a boutique hotel – just in time for Coventry’s turn as the UK’s new City of Culture in 2021.

Brushing dust from the huge but silent printing press Mick Williams, who started working at the Telegraph in 1972 aged just 16, says fondly: “This was my baby. Working here wasn’t just a job, there was a prestige attached to it because you were bringing people their news. It’s like a museum now.”

NFU elects first female president

I keep humming “Farming Matters – Minette Batters”. Strange earworm to have but I am pleased that Ms Batters now has this role. Jessica and I heard her speak last year at the Arthur Rank Centre and were very impressed. This article tells us:

Minette Batters, a beef farmer from Wiltshire, is the first woman to lead the NFU in its 110-year history.

She told the BBC that she saw “potential” after Brexit, but World Trade Organisation rules would be bad for farmers and consumers.

Ms Batters takes over from Meurig Raymond, who held the post since 2014.

She had just one opponent, Essex farmer Guy Smith, who will become her deputy.

The NFU, which represents more than 50,000 farmers and growers in England and Wales, announced the result at its annual meeting in Birmingham.

EU relationship ‘vital’

The union backed Remain in the 2016 referendum, but Ms Batters said she was keen to look to the future.

“We feel very strongly now, after doing our research into what World Trade Organisation rules [or a ‘no deal’] would mean, that we need to look forward and find solutions,” she said.

“Crashing out would not be good for farming so it is vital we agree our relationship with the EU.”

And she believes it is not just the farming industry that needs that certainty.

“It is important for consumers too,” she said. “When buying anything, we don’t want to see those taxes go up. It would have a negative impact for consumers.”

She also emphasised the importance of not “opening the flood gates” to cheap food with lower standards, as she said the NFU had the ambition to maintain or potentially raise them.

Further investment given to dementia friendly communities in Scotland

In so many areas of life a population base of  5 million makes it far easier to work together and this is reflected in brilliant thinking and doing north of the border like this. We need some of this action in England!

In 2015, the Life Changes Trust initially funded 12 dementia friendly communities over three years which have now developed into a further 82. To date, more than 3,400 people with dementia and 2,000 carers have directly benefited from being part of a dementia friendly community.

These communities provide a structure and culture that make it possible for people affected by dementia to do things that matter to them, remain integrated and active in their own communities and participate in decisions that affect their day-to-day lives.

This new investment of £2.5million will support 14 new communities, as well as providing some longer-term support for previously funded communities.

Scotland is leading the way in understanding how communities that are dementia friendly work best.

As well as providing information, support and opportunities, they draw on the abilities that people with dementia still have so they can contribute to their communities. They currently involve people with dementia aged from 39 to 104.

Current projects include:

  • Stornoway – people with dementia in care homes have been sharing their knowledge of local stories, anecdotes and now-unused objects in order to preserve local history and leave a legacy for the local community, museums and researchers.
  • A dementia friendly musical theatre community is run by Centrestage in Kilmarnock.
  • Glasgow Film Theatre is offering monthly “Movie Memories” film screenings to make sure that people with dementia are not excluded from the cinema-going community.
  • The British Deaf Association is raising awareness of living with hearing loss and dementia, providing resources.
  • Table Tennis Scotland supports people with dementia so they can still keep playing the sport they love or take it up as a new way of keeping fit.
  • New funding was also awarded to Scottish Ballet, Regional Screen Scotland, Edinburgh Leisure, Dementia Friendly Highlands, Dementia Orkney, the Forget-Me-Not Club in Banchory, Dementia Friendly Uists, Dementia Friendly Pentlands, Stirling and Forth Valley Dementia Friendly Neighbourhoods and care home communities in East Ayrshire and Kelso.

The right education for everyone Prime Minister Theresa May speaks at Derby College as she launches a review of post-18 education and funding

Jessica and I have been working on a bid for an Institute of Technology. One of its distinctive features is to bring more people to learning by reducing the number of people outside of the 30 mile drive to learn time. In the words from Theresa May below there is much to applaud but this review will not work for people like us unless the process has a rural lens. The PM set out her stall today saying:

On top of the firm foundation of a great primary and secondary education, and the reforms we are putting in place to introduce high quality T-levels we now need to ensure that options open to young people as they move into adulthood are more diverse, that the routes into further education and training are clearer, and that all options are fully accessible to everyone.

That is why I am today launching a major and wide-ranging review into post-18 education.

The review will be supported by an expert panel.

And I am delighted that Philip Augar has agreed to chair that panel.

It will focus on four key questions. How we ensure that tertiary education is accessible to everyone, from every background.

How our funding system provides value for money, both for students and taxpayers.

How we incentivise choice and competition right across the sector.

And finally, how we deliver the skills that we need as a country.

This is a review which, for the first time, looks at the whole post-18 education sector in the round, breaking down false boundaries between further and higher education, so we can create a system which is truly joined-up.

The town that’s found a potent cure for illness

I love this story of a collective approach to tackling social isolation and loneliness in the West Country. The article tells us:

The Compassionate Frome project was launched in 2013 by Helen Kingston, a GP there. She kept encountering patients who seemed defeated by the medicalisation of their lives: treated as if they were a cluster of symptoms rather than a human being who happened to have health problems. Staff at her practice were stressed and dejected by what she calls “silo working”.

So, with the help of the NHS group Health Connections Mendip and the town council, her practice set up a directory of agencies and community groups. This let them see where the gaps were, which they then filled with new groups for people with particular conditions. They employed “health connectors” to help people plan their care, and most interestingly trained voluntary “community connectors” to help their patients find the support they needed.

Sometimes this meant handling debt or housing problems, sometimes joining choirs or lunch clubs or exercise groups or writing workshops or men’s sheds (where men make and mend things together). The point was to break a familiar cycle of misery: illness reduces people’s ability to socialise, which leads in turn to isolation and loneliness, which then exacerbates illness.

Trainee mountain rescue dog sent out to find hidden volunteer rescues missing ramblers

A heart warming story of the Derbyshire outdoors to finish with!

Trainee rescue dog sent out on an exercise to find a hidden person passed his test with flying colours after finding a real group of lost people.

Scout, who still has another year of training before he becomes operational, has already managed to help a family that had gone astray.

The Woodland Mountain Rescue Team, based in the Peak District, Yorkshire, said it was very proud of the 2-year-old dog.

The team wrote on Facebook: “While out training last night the team’s trainee search dog Scout was working in woodland searching out a hidden person when he came across the scent of two unknown people who had become lost in the woodland, were without a torch and did not know how to get to safety.

“Scout immediately returned to his handler to tell him he had found some lost people.

“After indicating a find Scout then guided his handler into where the missing people were situated, returning several times to continue guiding as his handler got nearer the location.

“The pair then helped the people out of the woodland and into safety. It takes 2-3 years to train a search dog, Scout has another year of training before he can become operational, but this is exactly what he will be required to do. Well done Scout.”



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