Rural poverty: Support is out there in Essex this winter

A person counts their loose change; Inset: There With You This Winter

Rural poverty is thought to impact people throughout East Anglia - Credit: PA Wire/Archant

Rural poverty is in the spotlight this winter.

Campaigners working to reduce rural poverty say a lack of affordable housing, digital connectivity and transport are all contributing to deprivation in countryside communities.

East Anglia is home to the most deprived neighbourhood in the country - Jaywick, on the Essex coast.

But deprivation levels here vary.

Saffron Walden and Stansted Mountfitchet are in the top three least deprived areas in Essex, according to government statistics.

Great Shelford, Cambridgeshire is the fifth-least deprived area in the UK.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans shone a spotlight on rural poverty at a Westminster debate two weeks ago.

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He told a government minister: "Research by the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England suggested that just 40% of young people living in rural areas expected to remain there in the next five years.

"They cited affordable housing, connectivity, rural transport and rural employment as the factors driving them out."

He asked the government to balance "levelling up" between urban, rural and suburban areas.

The minister, Lord Greenhalgh, replied that £4.8 billion of government money will be spent on connectivity, transport and town regeneration.

There are charities, such as Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), which want to help, too.

An ACRE spokesperson said: "Many people think of the countryside as an idyllic place to live.

"However, rural communities often lack basic services, homes that people can afford and employment opportunities.

"This can make life difficult.

"Just because disadvantage is often hidden from view, it shouldn’t go unaddressed."

The Rural Community Council of Essex (RCCE) is a member of ACRE.

So that we can be There With You This Winter, we asked the RCCE how rural residents can find support if they need it.

An RCCE spokesperson said: "Our Rural Housing Enabler helps villages plan small-scale developments that enable young people and families to continue living in their local community.

"This service is particularly popular with parishes in Uttlesford."

Information is online: https://www.essexrcc.org.uk/our-work/rural-affordable-housing

The RCCE also helps run Community Agents Essex which supports older people or people with learning difficulties.

Information is online: https://www.communityagentsessex.org.uk/

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