As those of us living in rural communities know, the archetypal vision is of us residing in leafy tranquillity is not entirely true. Country life brings its own challenges and at times one feels that Central Government is much too urban orientated.
Over the years various non-political organisations have been established to provide support and advice to such communities and within their ranks is a wealth of knowledge and expertise. Some of them give grants or can give signposting to sources of funding for rural projects.
The list of organisations below and links to their websites is by no means exhaustive so if you are aware of others we have omitted please let us know. We will get the Coalition Government’s commercial out of the way first!
· Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)
“Localism, localism, localism”
The Government says that it is overseeing a fundamental shift of power away from Westminster to councils, communities and homes across the nation. A radical localist vision is turning Whitehall on its head by decentralising central government and giving power to the people. The DCLG says that it is helping to end big government and create a free, fair and responsible Big Society by:
- decentralising power as far as possible
- meeting people’s housing aspirations
- putting communities in charge of planning
- increasing accountability
- letting people see how their money is being spent.
- Warwickshire Rural Community Council (WRCC): http://www.ruralwarwickshire.org.uk/homeThe WRCC’s staff can provide support if a community is thinking of setting up a new group or developing an existing one. It can help you find appropriate funding opportunities. Its range of services includes one to one consultations where they can discuss your funding and organisational issues and they will provide support tailored to the community’s your needs.
- National Association of Local Councils (NALC):
http://www.nalc.gov.uk/Default.aspxThe NALC represents around 10,000 town, parish and community councils in England andWales. The National Association promotes the role of local councils as representatives of local democracy and works to protect the rights of its member councils.Warwickshire & West Midlands Association of Local Councils (WALC): http://www.walc.org.uk/
The WALC represents and works alongside parish and town councils in Warwickshire, Solihull and Birmingham. WALC provides advice on issues facing Parish and Town Councils in the area and offers a wide range of services and assistance to local councils, including training seminars and workshops, and numerous publications and appropriate stationery. It is affiliated to the NALC.
- English Rural:
http://www.englishrural.org.uk/English Rural Housing Association is one of the leading researchers and developers of affordable rural housing, working with a variety of partners to tackle the housing problems affecting rural communities. The Association’s team of specialist staff are passionate about rural housing. They work under the governance of a multi-skilled Board of Management. Staff and Board Members are involved with a variety of national organisations and initiatives and collectively offer an unrivalled knowledge of rural housing.
- National Housing Federation (NHF): http://www.housing.org.uk/default.aspx?tabid=429&mid=2124&ctl=Details&ArticleID=3426The NHA offers advice on rural housing affordable housing, pointing out that just a few suitably designed affordable homes in the right location can make a real difference to the viability of village services. Parish councillors are in an ideal position to influence this. The National Housing Federation’s Rural Housing Alliance has developed a guide to help answer some of the frequently asked questions about affordable rural housing and the development process, dispel common misconceptions, and champion the role that parish and town councils play. Download the Rural Housing Alliance’s:
brochure for parish councillors (PDF, opens new window).
- Development Trusts Association:
http://www.dta.org.uk/aboutusDevelopment trusts are community owned and led organisations. They use self-help, trading for social purpose, and ownership of buildings and land, to bring about long-term social, economic and environmental benefits in their community. They are independent, but work with the public sector, private businesses, and with other community groups.They are community ‘anchor’ organisations, delivering services and facilities, finding solutions to local problems, and helping other organisations and initiatives to succeed.
- Rural Community Shops:
http://www.plunkett.co.uk/whatwedo/rcs/ruralcommunityshops.cfmRural Community Shops is an activity of the Plunkett Foundation. There are now around 250 community owned shops trading in England, Scotland andWales. Most of these have been established through our support.We have a dedicated Community Retail Team and service to support rural communities wanting to set up and run a community-owned shop, and to also support and advise existing community owned village shops.
In particular, it provides a range of:
- Advisory Support
- Access to Funding
- Information and Resources
- Legal Structures
- The Rural Shops Association:
http://www.ruralshops.org.uk/en/pages/aboutus.aspxThe Rural Shops Alliance is a national trade association working to support the owners of independent rural shops. It represents over 8,000 such businesses in the United Kingdom. The objectives of the RSA are:
- To act as the national voice for rural retailers
- To campaign on their behalf
- To advise and help them to become more competitive, to the benefit of the communities that they serve.
- Voluntary Action Stratford-on-Avon District (VASA):
http://www.vasa.org.uk/VASA is the lead organisation for the voluntary and community sector in the Stratford District. It promotes volunteering, helps groups by providing a range of advice and practical support, by recruiting volunteers and representing their interests with decision-makers, and also deliver a number of services essential to individuals and local communities.