Summer 2023 Rural Services Partnership Spotlight

Welcome to the Summer 2023 Rural Services Partnership Spotlight

In this edition we welcome new members, highlight your opportunity to attend our online National Rural Conference and share news and best practice on help for the vulnerable, rural jobs, transport, health, money advice, housing, pubs and much more. Happy reading!

New Members
The RSP continues to increase its membership with well over 200 members! We are delighted to welcome the following four organisations that have signed up since our spring edition of Spotlight.  The great news is that we have more new members in the pipeline too. Click on each organisation logo to find out more.

Free online Annual National Rural Conference
Tickets are booking fast for our National Rural Conference.  If you haven’t booked already check out the line up and book here.  There is bound to be something that catches your eye whether it a session on fair funding, the economy, affordable housing, net zero, digital connectivity or transport.  Expert speakers will be presenting at each session, and they’ll be the chance for audience participation too. 

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


Helping homeless rough sleepers
The Homeless Rough Sleepers Nursing Service for Somerset are a team of 13 who provide outreach healthcare to some of the county’s most vulnerable people.
We were runners up for The Royal Society for Public Health, Health & Wellbeing Awards - Health Equity 2022, and we have just won the NHS Parliamentary Awards for Health Inequalities 2023 at the NHS 75th celebrations in London.
Read more

Focus on Land & Habitat Management
CJS has recently produced a publication on Land and Habitat management in association with the Landscape Institute.  It includes 7 articles, 5 job profiles, including more opportunities to train, work and network.

The lead article from the Landscape Institute discusses their recent ‘Skills for Greener Places’ report – the skills gaps and what’s needed to plug those gaps.  Whereas the first job profile is of a Landscape Officer with a National Park Authority, detailing what the job entails and advice if you’re thinking of getting into this work.
Read more

Sussex village increases affordable housing by 9%
The completion of 15 brand new affordable rural homes was officially marked by the community of Icklesham in East Sussex on Friday 14 July 2023.
Prior to the houses being built, there were a total of 167 affordable homes in the area of Icklesham. The 15 new homes represent a 9% increase in social housing provision, making a significant difference to the lives of local people in the Parish.
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Mi-Link – trialling innovative technology for bus services
The Mi-Link bus services operating around Didcot in Oxfordshire represent the first use of electric autonomous buses to carry passengers in the UK. Following the success of Phase 1 providing a bus service within Milton Park business, science and technology park throughout March 2023, from 12 June service 002 has linked Milton Park with Didcot Parkway station.  Although operation of service 002 will cease on 28 July, the third phase of operation will commence in August with route 003 also linking Milton Park with Didcot Parkway station.
The buses are 100% electric and emissions free. The service is available for anyone to use and it’s free. It is fully accessible to users of wheelchairs and other mobility aids.
Read more

Community Transport Week 2023:A week-long celebration of the impact of community transport!
Between October 16 and 21st, 2023, communities across the UK will celebrate the vital role and inspiring work of Community Transport in helping millions of people to stay independent, participate in their communities and access essential public services and employment.
The CT Week is a time to spotlight the incredible efforts of volunteers, drivers, coordinators and everyone in the sector who works tirelessly to provide reliable transportation options for those who face mobility challenges or lack access to conventional modes of transportation.
Read more

Mobile UK Launches ‘Live Better Connected’ Campaign to Raise Awareness as to how Mobile Connectivity Improves Lives
Mobile UK, the industry body for the UK’s Mobile Network Operators (MNOs), has launched ‘Live Better Connected’, a brand-new campaign designed to educate people and improve awareness about how individuals and society as a whole rely on mobile connectivity.
The new era of mobile connectivity is dramatically impacting lives at home, at work, and in local communities. Indeed, not only do people use mobile networks for almost every aspect of everyday life, but the internet of things (IoT) is driving forward a new era of connected devices, transforming the ways in which businesses and entire industries operate.  
Read more

How to tackle net zero?
It’s knowing where to start; that’s the thing. Anything as massive as global warming is pretty daunting for rural communities with limited critical mass to get the Net Zero ball rolling.
But up in the frozen north of Leicestershire the village of Bottesford has at least made a start.
We’ve held a webinar for local businesses during lockdown and followed that up by working with Masters students from Nottingham University on projects in the village.
Read more

It's definitely time to 'Save Our Surgeries'
BMA Cymru Wales finds that over the past 10 years:

  • The number of patients registered at GP practices in Wales has increased by 93,317 (2.9 per cent)
  • The number of practices has decreased from 470 to 386 (18 per cent)
  • The equivalent number of full-time GPs has decreased by 456 (21.7 per cent)
  • The average practice list size has increased to 8378 patients (23.5 per cent)
  • The number of patients looked after per FTE GP has risen from 1675 to 2210 (32 per cent)

Read more

Launching Plunkett’s Annual Rural Community Business Awards
The Plunkett Foundation, a national charity that supports rural community-owned businesses around the UK, are excited to announce that the Rural Community Business Awards are returning for another year with the support of Headline Sponsor, the North Barnes Farm Partnership with Welbeck Land and Eton College.
The Awards honour the commitment and achievements of all types of rural community businesses, as well as recognising the volunteers often working tirelessly in the background who go above and beyond to serve their local communities.
Read more

Patient Participation Groups
At the Patients Association we want to ensure patients, their families and carers are represented and heard from at all stages of their treatment. We are focussed on patient partnership. And we have developed a model of working with NHS Trusts, GP practices and other health and social care organisations, including universities and colleges to assist with patient involvement.
One aspect of patient partnership that we like to promote is Patient Participation Groups.
Read more

High demand for benefits
Benefits are top of the list of queries people bring to us at Citizens Advice Torridge, North, Mid & West Devon but the cost-of-living crisis has seen increasing numbers of people come for advice on rising energy costs and managing debt. Fuel debt is the second highest debt issue and although we have been able to run campaigns providing fuel vouchers, advise on the benefits of installing a smart meter and other ways to save on energy, it remains a very real problem as so many families decide between heating and eating.
Read more

Rural Housing Week 2023 Round Up
National Rural Housing week was held from the 3-7 July,  the week kicked off with the launch of the Rural Homelessness Counts Coalition, a pioneering initiative aimed at tackling the hidden crisis of rural homelessness. The coalition is a testament to our commitment to ensuring that everyone, regardless of their circumstances, has access to safe and affordable housing.
Read more

National and Regional Dementia Conference 2023 Review
The Plymouth University International, National and Regional Dementia Conference 2023 organised by Ian Sherriff B.E.M, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth’s Faculty of Health was held on the main university campus on the 23rd of June 2023.
Experts in dementia care from the UK and Europe were brought together for a conference at the University of Plymouth on Friday 23 June.
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Resources to help rural businesses adapt in a changing workplace
Following the step-change in employers’ and employees’ expectations post-pandemic, the National Innovation Centre for Rural Enterprise’s (NICRE) ‘Future of Work’ module puts rural businesses on the front foot, giving them the skills to adapt to attract, retain and engage employees.
It contains resources from a series of workshops, organised by the Rural Design Centre Innovation Project (RDCIP) in partnership with NICRE and Stick Theory, covering culture and communications, flexibility and fairness and mental health and well-being in rural workplaces. Watch our video to gain an overview of the project and read a blog post by Di Gates, of Stick Theory.
Read more

Impact of the Cost of Living crisis on those with a disability or long-term health condition
For those people who are living with a disability or long- term health condition, both our local and national figures show that they are being impacted by the cost of living crisis more than those without any health issues. Locally, 64% of clients seen between April and June classed themselves as having a disability or long- term health condition. 36% presented with multiple impairments, which shows the added complexities of our client group. Both of these figures are 4% higher than they were in the previous quarter. Data from National Citizens Advice also echoes this. May 2023 saw over 50,000 people with disabilities or long - term health conditions contacting us for advice relating to the cost of living. This figure is higher than any other group. National figures also show that the number of food bank referrals made in April and May 2023 was much higher for those who are disabled or who have long-term health conditions compared with those without health issues.
Read more

Coalition grows to press the case for broadcast services
As you may have seen in our previous newsletters, the Rural Services Network (RSN) is part of a campaign called Broadcast 2040+. This campaign aims to make sure that the government's media policies protect ‘free to air’ broadcast TV and radio services, received through an aerial by millions of homes, for decades to come. Right now, these services are only guaranteed until the early 2030s.
In the UK, millions of people, including those living in rural areas represented by the RSN, rely on digital terrestrial television (also known as Freeview) and broadcast radio. These services are available to everyone and do not require a superfast internet connection.
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Welsh pubs to benefit from grants to diversify services
Pubs across Wales could still benefit from grants to help them diversify their services.
Pub is The Hub is supporting pub diversification projects with advice and small grants to help publicans who want to provide much needed local services and amenities in rural areas across Wales.
Pub is The Hub is a not-for-profit organisation which offers independent specialist advice to publicans on rural services diversification so they can provide viable local services at the heart of their community.
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Study seeks UK farmers’ feedback on impcts of bovine tuberculosis
New research by national charity The Farming Community Network (FCN) seeks to better understand the impact of bovine tuberculosis (bTB) on UK farmers’ health and wellbeing.
The study is exploring the emotional, financial and physical impacts of bTB and the long-term ramifications these may have had on the farmer, farm family or farm business.
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Upskill in Emergency Medicine Point of Care Ultrasound
The School of Medicine at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) will be holding a three-day CPD course for health professionals to gain practical skills in Emergency Medicine Point of Care Ultrasound.
Monday 4th to Wednesday 6th September, Preston Campus, course fee £800, To book your place,
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Dedicated to making customers lives better
Anglian Water is the largest water and water recycling company in England and Wales by geographic area. We supply water and water recycling services to almost seven million people in the East of England and Hartlepool. At Anglian Water, we are dedicated to making life better for our customers every single day. As a monopoly provider of an essential public service, we have a duty to deliver wider benefits to society and for the millions of customers in our region – and supporting our customers in vulnerable circumstances is a core pillar in upholding that duty.
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Supporting vulnerable customers
Putting customers at the heart of everything is crucial for Wales & West Utilities, including supporting those in vulnerable situations.
We have a dedicated team who provide support to those who are most in need and have several support measures which include:
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