Spring 2024 Rural Services Partnership Spotlight

Welcome to the Spring 2024 Rural Services Partnership Spotlight

In this edition we welcome two new members and share best practice from a wide cross section of our members including articles on rural pubs, decarbonising rural heating, countryside jobs, rural health, agri-tech, rural crime, advice services, rural housing, space travel and saving lives!

New Members

We are delighted that the Rural Services Network is growing from strength to strength. This month we welcome two new members – Community Action Northumberland (CAN) and Small & Medium Enterprise Business (SMEB). Click on the logos below to find out more about the much needed and valued service they offer to rural communities.

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 admin@sparse.gov.uk


How a new government should help rural households decarbonise their heating
Both political parties have set out how they intend to progress decarbonizing the UK’s 27 million homes, including the 2 million rural homes not connected to mains gas. The Conservatives rowed back from their 2026 boiler ban for off gas grid homes, reflecting the difficulty and high cost this could have imposed on some households particularly during a cost of living crisis. Rural MPs were persuasive in exposing the difficulty and high cost some of their constituents would face if this unfair ‘rural first’ boiler ban had gone ahead as originally planned. The Labour Party has also reined back its commitment to spend £28bn a year on green investment as it seeks to convince the electorate of its fiscal responsibility.
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Despite 12 years of elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) we are still no closer to tackling Rural crime
Rural crime is one of those issues that cuts right to the heart of rural communities yet fails to make traction in the corridors of power, and still after 12 years of elected Police and Crime Commissioners (PCCs) we seem no closer to tackling the problem.
The Countryside Alliance has long been a vocal campaigner on rural crime and was alarmed to see new research from the House of Commons Library revealing that the crime rate in rural areas has surged by 32% since 2011.
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FCN Launches New Partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support
The Farming Community Network (FCN) has launched a new partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support – which will help to improve the support available to those living with cancer in rural areas.
As part of this partnership FCN will be working closely with Macmillan Cancer Support, including raising awareness in rural communities of the signs and symptoms of cancer and building referral bridges to and from Macmillan’s services.
Farmers, farm workers and people living in rural communities can have lower access to cancer services and support due to the nature of their work and rural life in often isolated areas.
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RABI Pledges £10m for Mental Health Support
RABI, the UK’s leading farming mental health charity, announced at the House of Lords on Wednesday 17 April that it would be increasing its spending on mental health services by up to £10 million over the next five years.
Joined by around 100 politicians, opinion formers and farming sector leaders, RABI’s pledge was made as they launched their year-long Empowering the Worth and Wellbeing of Farming People initiative.
The initiative aims to deepen engagement and bring together the farming and wider agricultural sector to find solutions to increase the mental resilience of the farming community. It also focusses on ensuring Parliamentarians are aware of the mental health challenges facing farming people by making sure their voices are heard.
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The Forgotten Crisis: Addressing the Urgent Need for Affordable Rural Housing
In a recent essay for the Localis report “Building consent: housing by popular demand,” Kerry Booth, Chief Executive of the Rural Services Network (RSN), sheds light on a pressing issue often overlooked by policymakers: the dire lack of affordable housing in rural communities across England. As the Prime Minister announces plans to build a million homes over the current Parliament, Booth argues that the government’s approach fails to address the unique challenges faced by rural areas.
The rural housing crisis is a multifaceted problem that extends beyond the mere shortage of homes. Houses in rural areas are significantly less affordable than in urban areas, with the average lower quartile house price being 8.8 times the average lower quartile earnings, compared to 7.6 times in urban areas. This disparity is further compounded by the growing trend of short-term holiday lets, which reduces the availability of long-term affordable rentals.
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Space Medicine - a UK perspective
Hosted by The University of Central Lancashire, National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine in collaboration with the Royal College of Surgeons Edinburgh Faculty of Remote, Rural and Humanitarian Health.
Join us for an out-of-this-world experience exploring the fascinating field of Space Medicine.~
Professor Stuart Maitland-Knibb, Director of the National Centre for Remote and Rural Medicine, will be introducing Dr Peter Hodkinson, member of the European Space Agency Medical Board and Head of Aerospace Medicine at King's College London.
Get an insight into the role of space doctors, learn about the impact of space exploration on the human body and explore the impact on human physiology at the Final Frontier.
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ONH is expanding its services
ONH Planning for Good is the new brand name of RCOH Ltd, a planning and development consultancy founded in 2011 in rural west Oxfordshire to enable local communities to punch their weight in the planning system.
As the days of neighbourhood planning may be numbered, ONH is expanding its other services for town and parish councils, most of which operate in rural areas. Although best known for its neighbourhood planning support services – 200 projects and counting – it has always helped communities to comment on emerging Local Plans and major planning applications and appeals.
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From A4 to For All - 30 years of the Countryside Jobs Service
In July 1994 small envelopes started landing on the doormats of countryside rangers, inside were a couple of sheets of closely typed A4 containing details of vacancies in the countryside management sector. Since those small beginnings the Countryside Jobs Service has grown along with the green jobs sector.
Conservation was mainly for historic buildings and nature was the green stuff outside. The National Trust had wardens not rangers which meant we sometimes got enquiries about prison wardens!
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Pub is The Hub works in partnerships to support pubs and rural areas
Pub is The Hub has been working in collaboration and partnership with a range of organisations to support rural pubs, publicans and their communities with different activities.
A new gardening guide, in partnership with the charity Horticap, which has popular gardener Alan Titchmarsh as patron, has been produced to help pubs in developing their outside areas and bring local people together.
Pub is The Hub has also supported various community pub awards in Norfolk for more than 15 years as part of its partnership working with local councils. This year Pub is The Hub supported the search for the Broadland Pub of the Year 2024 and South Norfolk Pub of the Year 2024.
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Citizens Advice Bus Celebrates First Birthday Helping Rural Communities
One year ago in April 2023, our Advice Bus was launched, providing free advice to the people of East Dorset & Purbeck, many of whom live in rurally isolated communities. This helped address issues of rural isolation, digital exclusion and limited access to services that we see in Dorset.
The service is provided five days a week by two Advisers and in its first year, has supported over 1000 residents, with over 300 of these being brand new to our service. Common issues that we help people with are debt, benefits and housing.
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Supporting Communities in the Provision of Sustainable and Resilient Defibrillator Projects
The Community Heartbeat Trust charity (“CHT”) is a national charity, working in all 4 of the main UK countries. Unlike retailers, and other organisations, the purpose of the Community Heartbeat Trust charity is to support communities in the provision of Governance led, Sustainable and Resilient defibrillator projects. To date, we have delivered over 9000 projects (April 2024). Currently we are focussing on farms and other rural locations.
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Join one of the Fastest Growing Networks in Agriculture
Ready to explore the future of agriculture? Welcome to Hartpury Agri-Tech Centre's Digital Farming Network – a leading community in agricultural innovation. Whether you're a farmer, supplier, advisor, student, or simply fascinated by food production – join for free today.

SMEs join Hartpury’s Tech Box Park Accelerator in partnership with Barclays Eagle Labs
Twenty ambitious businesses are diving headfirst into agriculture with a boost from a Barclays Eagle Labs partnership, aimed at empowering Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to soar in the industry.
Hartpury University and Hartpury College are excited to welcome these new members to their Tech Box Park SME Accelerator, offering a range of scale-up support to SMEs from all over the UK with a range of services to help them connect, grow, and scale into the agricultural industry.
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Seminar content and opportunities to present

If there is a particular topic you would like us to cover as part of our seminar programme, please let us know by emailing events@sparse.gov.uk and we’ll try and secure an expert to talk on the matter.  Similarly, please get in touch if you have some best practice you’d like to share and potentially present at one of our seminars.

All events are free of charge for our members only.

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 admin@sparse.gov.uk


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