We, as part of a consortium, have been awarded £975,370 from The Big Lottery Fund to develop the Rural Wisdom project to run for 5 years. The project is a consortium between Outside the Box, Volunteering Matters Cymru and National Development Team for inclusion.

This project aims to develop how rural areas can be improved for older people in light of a historic focus on urban areas. With rurality exacerbating problems commonly associated with ageing it is vital to recognise that wellbeing can only be brought about by working with older people.

With an increasing older population in rural areas as younger generations move away, we hope to address not only rural issues for older people but also to encourage and support older people into directly impacting their communities. This movement would help establish a volunteer base – allowing for reduced isolation and increased well-being due to improved access to health facilities despite deep funding cuts.

To do this the project has, for the past year, been speaking to older people in rural Scotland and Wales to discover their issues and how they are intensified by rurality. Read a short summary of what we’ve learnt so far.

Over the next 5 years, we will be sharing our learning and actions across the UK in the hope that it aids rural communities across the country to be able to work as well as they can for older people.

Big Lottery Fund Scotland Chair, Maureen McGinn said: “The Rural Wisdom project will ensure that older people in both Scotland and Wales will have their voices heard about things which matter most to them. It is a great example of how National Lottery funding can make a real difference to people’s lives and specifically the lives of older people living in rural communities. We were very impressed with the partnership approach embedded in this application and how this will also help inform learning from the project. I am sure that it will bring many benefits to those involved, including boosting confidence and skills and empowering older people to participate in and shape activities within their local areas.”

Natasha John, Business Development Manager for Wales at Volunteering Matters said: “‘We are thrilled with the award of the Big Lottery Fund grant for our Rural Wisdom project and are excited to build on all the excellent work Volunteering Matters has already achieved for older people in Wales over the last few years by helping them to have a stronger voice, developing sustainable volunteer-led solutions at a local level and putting older people at the heart of decision making.  Together with our UK partners, Outside the Box and the National Development Team for Inclusion, we have a real opportunity to share our learning more widely, helping to shape rural communities across the UK.”