How to….revitalise rural communities through its older people

An international research project involving UK universities will examine how older people can help ‘revitalise’ rural communities.

The project will involve a structured technique known as ‘guided conversations’ as part of a toolkit designed to find out what older people in rural communities want and need. Researchers will then help communities design and set up solutions to their problems using the voluntary, public and private sectors.

Initiatives might include community transport schemes, starting new clubs and societies, and bringing together the younger and older generations.

Volunteers will be trained to identify their underused community assets and networks and conduct guided conversations with about 600 people (aged 60+ and no longer in employment) across the eight communities in the study, finding out how people feel about their lives and the place in which they live.

The project, titled Healthy Ageing through Innovation in Rural Europe (HAIRE), has won a £4.5m grant from the EU to work in eight rural communities – two each in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and the UK (Feock in Cornwall and Rother in East Sussex).

HAIRE is a collaboration involving 15 partners across the four countries. It will make use of the University’s knowledge and experience in health innovation projects across rural communities in the South West of England, improving health and care quality, and helping create an economy of wellbeing.

Associate Professor of Digital Health and Education, Dr Arunangsu Chatterjee is the University’s lead for HAIRE said: ‘HAIRE provides us with an exciting opportunity to collaborate across the channel with countries facing similar challenges. The project will enable us to share and learn from each other how best to co-design localised solutions to improve health and wellbeing in our ageing communities.’


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