Category: Cotswold

Hidden Hardship: Everyday Experiences, Coping Strategies, and Barriers to Wellbeing in Rural Britain

A new participatory research project by Dr Stephanie Denning at Coventry University funded by the British Academy and Leverhulme Trust has sought to better understand: people’s experiences of rural hardship, coping strategies, and barriers to improved wellbeing.

What did the research find?
The research found that hardship can be defined as struggle and tough times, reflecting daily struggle more than one-off ‘emergency’ situations. Rural hardship is not the same as urban hardship. The causes of rural hardship can be summarised as ‘lacks of’ including government support and investment, employment, transport – the jigsaw illustration further illustrates this.

In people’s coping strategies, huge importance was given to informal support networks with friends and families, in addition to support offered by local groups although these could be difficult to access with limited transport options and a fear of stigma.

Barriers to improved wellbeing were to some degree perceived as outside of people’s control, which makes it difficult for people to envisage hardship improving. These included the ‘lacks of’ such as problems with transport, lack of government support and investment, and stigma/shame linked to inequality.

Hidden Hardship research recommendations:
The research’s Report for Policymakers and Community Leaders concludes with five recommendations which are summarised here: (see the full report for more details)
1. There need to be more tailored national government and national voluntary sector responses to rural hardship.
2. More government and voluntary sector support is needed for individuals experiencing daily rural hardship including within the welfare state to address the high cost of rural living.
3. Rural residents need support accessing transport to get to medical appointments at GP surgeries and hospitals with local GP practices/branches re-opening and/or staying open.
4. Local organisations and leaders (including Church leaders) should raise awareness in the general population in rural areas such as the North Cotswolds that people are experiencing hardship, and sensitively give a voice to people experiencing hardship to share their experiences.
5. The ‘lacks of’ that cause and affect rural hardship need to be addressed in local and national government planning, notably public transport/infrastructure, affordable housing, and amenities.

Want to know more?
Visit the project website for more information including the full Report for Policymakers and Community Leaders and accompanying 2 page briefing
• Email the project lead Dr Stephanie Denning

Cotswold District Launch

On the 22nd June we had our sixth and final district launch and that was in Northleach at the Westwoods Centre for the Cotswold District. We had great representation across sector and conversations were so engrossed we ran late! We heard from Ed Bonn from the GREAT project about a new Zero Dig growing project in Cirencester, along with Anton providing an insightful look into the work the South Cotswold District Food bank is focusing on. We heard from the Cotswolds’ first food pantry, and we also had updates from the District Council.

This event was a platform for input and thoughts around a ‘Cotswold Food Network’ and what this could provide for the area. We will be pulling together the ideas, thoughts and aspirations in the coming weeks which will influence our journey ahead in the region.

As always food was a key theme of the day and following a decadent chocolate cake to get us going on arrival the team from the Long Table produced a wholesome and very tasty lunch for us all.

Both Debs and I reflected that we were sad to see the end of this series of in person events as each one has been inspiring and very insightful, most of all it has been a pleasure to meet so many passionate and motivate individuals all wanting to work together to strengthen our region’s food equity.

Cotswolds and Forest of Dean Pantry Workshop

On March 22nd Feeding Gloucestershire facilitated a workshop to support the exploration of Affordable Food Club models in the Cotswolds and the Forest of Dean.

The workshop brought together speakers from Food Pantries across the county to share their experiences in setting up and running food pantries with a membership model., the recording of this workshop can be found here.

Affordable food clubs, such as community pantries, larders and even food buses, are designed to help people on a low incomes stretch their budgets further. Joining an affordable food club means people can get food, and other essential items, for a lot less than their retail value (for example 10 items a week for £3.50).

Many affordable food clubs also offer other help – they can signpost you to other help such as debt advice, or they can offer advice drop in session. They can also offer social activities, including school holiday provision, community cafes and community growing opportunities.

A recording of the workshop is available here

Cirencester Pantry

The Cirencester Pantry runs a weekly larder in Watermoor Church Hall with the aim to help reduce food waste and is also a support for people who are struggling with the cost of living.

The pantry operates on a membership model and is linked to Food Larder and Signpost Homeless charity

Address: Pantry Venue - Watermoor Church Hall Cirencester Gloucestershire GL7 1JR or 31 Chesterton Lane , Cirencester GL7 1XQ for admin

[email protected]
07584 241597