In today’s final blog, NFU Mutual’s Social Media Manager, Hannah Ratcliff, outlines some interesting insights from their recent Love Rural survey and whilst it’s essential to understand that rural isolation and loneliness can have a profound impact on those living in the countryside, it’s also important to recognise the importance of those key elements that make countryside living a positive experience.
In 2019, NFU Mutual surveyed individuals in a range of communities across the UK to acknowledge the issues that those in the countryside are facing whilst also exploring and championing some of the great things about rural communities.
Our research found that, despite many local towns and villages having lost amenities and services due to closures and cuts, it would seem that the British propensity to rally together is still alive and well! More than three quarters (78%) of people feel pride in their local community with 77% of those in rural areas loving or liking where they live.
So, with nearly one in four people saying that community spirit has increased during the past five years, what is it that’s making people love their local community? Put simply – it’s the people.
87% of people said that close-knit, friendly, caring and welcoming communities where residents are actively involved in local initiatives made the difference to how happy they are. This plays out on social media too, with stories of many rural communities running their own initiatives, from community run transport and fundraising events for local school and medical services to crowdsourcing solutions for crime and littler picks as a show of local pride.
While this positivity is evident in rural and urban communities across the UK, it is countryside dwellers who are the happiest with where they live (50% of rural dwellers love their area compared with 34% of urban residents). They are also the most active in organising community initiatives and opportunities for people to come together and socialise, with a greater level of local fundraising.
Of course, not every community is thriving, but an increasing number of people in the countryside love where they live, and this appears to be down to the individuals in those communities coming together to drive change. The resounding feedback is that the countryside’s local community landscape is one filled with neighbourly enterprise that is actively contributing to happiness. People are helping others, running initiatives, maintaining spaces and keeping community spirit buoyant.
Naturally, there is frustration that key issues aren’t being addressed, but in many instances, particularly in rural communities, these frustrations are being channelled into positive action with residents doing things for themselves. Ultimately, most Brits are interested in maintaining what makes their community special and keeping it that way – often with a community hub such as a village hall at the centre of that change.
Whilst the farming industry is faced with huge, impactful challenges based on countryside living, sometimes driven by isolation and loneliness, our research shows that there is a lot to be gained from living in rural areas and the people can make all the difference.