Hinterland - 12 April 2021

In Hinterland this week - the loss of a royal, rural champion, food security challenges, loneliness, Sir Michael Marmot speaks on race, yet more evidence of unaffordable adult social care pressures and city flight via Airbnb

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'Supporter of rural Britain': Tributes paid to Prince Philip

I felt sadder than I thought I might as I reflected on the loss of Prince Philip. In his very long life he has championed many causes that we have allowed ourselves to disassociate him with. I think it can be advocated without doubt that rural England has lost a significant champion. This article tells us:

He was also involved in over 750 organisations - many of them countryside based - serving as a patron, president or member.

After his retirement in 2017, he spent a lot of his time at the secluded Wood Farm in Wolferton, Norfolk, which sits on the western edge of Sandringham Estate.

The 20,000-acre estate consists of arable, livestock and horticultural farms, as well as a country park.

The Country Land and Business Association (CLA) paid its tributes, describing Prince Philip as a 'passionate supporter of rural Britain'.

"Through his Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme many thousands of young people from all walks of life were taught to respect and enjoy the countryside," CLA President Mark Bridgeman said.

"We express our sincerest condolences to the Royal Family, and will remember with gratitude the Duke’s outstanding commitment to farming communities everywhere."

The NFU added that Prince Phillip was a 'great champion' of British farming and rural communities.


Food security: How can UK cities feed themselves?

Fascinating stuff, I put this alongside the fact that allotments are the most productive means of food production. Its an approach which will become increasingly relevant in our greener inner cities once the trend gets established methinks. This story tells us:

With Covid and Brexit forcing the UK to re-examine its food security, ‘farm cities’ and towns, from Tokyo to Todmorden, could provide a sustainable model for communities to feed themselves

Tokyo is a king of modern-day mega cities. Majestic skyscrapers, a sophisticated transport network, and almost 40 million residents dwell within its urban sprawl. A triumphal metropolis, most certainly. A bucolic paradise… perhaps not.

But look a little closer and a more nuanced picture emerges. Nestled in among the skyscrapers and concrete avenues lies a potential blueprint for a modern form of sustainable agriculture. Unlike many nations that divide themselves between city and country, or urban and rural, Japan mixes the two in a patchwork of organic farms dotted throughout its cities.

These aren’t just home gardens contributing the odd bunch of beans to the dinner table – these are core components of the nation’s food security. A quarter of all Japanese farmers live in cities, producing around one third of the nation’s entire agricultural output. In Tokyo alone, they produce enough vegetables to feed around 700,000 people.

Granted, Japan’s system is far from perfect. The country’s food security is one of the lowest in the developed world and its urban farms are under threat from evolving planning regulations. But as the UK considers its own levels of self-sufficiency and food security in the wake of Brexit and Covid-19, could it learn something from its model of food production?


Where are Britain's loneliest places in lockdown?

I think this is a big story – a number of the local authority areas on the list have rural components – most notably places like North Lincolnshire, which belie the simplistic rural/urban divide suggested in this article, which tells us:

Loneliness during the Covid lockdown has been much more intense in poorer, urban areas and places with a higher proportion of young people, says the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

A study has mapped the factors that makes loneliness more likely in different parts of Britain.

Former industrial towns with higher unemployment were more lonely.

While affluent and older populations were less likely to experience high levels of lockdown loneliness.

And high streets with good local businesses can make a positive difference.

The latest research from the ONS shows the overlapping factors linked to the highest levels of loneliness.

Urban areas, particularly those with declining industries, and higher rates of unemployment and crime, are more vulnerable to loneliness.

The study found a particularly strong link during the pandemic between joblessness and loneliness in towns and cities outside London.

The ONS cautions against reading too much into individual local figures, but levels of "often or always" lonely are double the national average in places including:

North Lincolnshire

As previous studies have shown, young adults, even before they were cut off from their social lives during the pandemic, are much more likely to report feelings of loneliness than older people.

In these self-reported feelings of loneliness, 16 to 24-year-olds were five times more likely to say they had felt lonely in the past seven days than those 65 to 74-year-olds.


UK public health expert criticises No 10 race report ‘shortcomings’

Whenever Michael Marmot speaks we should listen. Some fascinating thinking here – this story tells us:

An inquiry into racial disparities used outdated references and notably underplayed the impact of structural racism in health outcomes, the UK’s leading authority on public health has said, in a new blow to the credibility of the much-criticised report.

Sir Michael Marmot, who led a pioneering work into health inequalities in 2010, which was updated a decade later, said that while there was “much that is good” in the report’s chapter on public health, he was concerned about “shortcomings” in its approach.

Writing for the Guardian, Marmot said the report by the Downing Street-appointed Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities (Cred) had cited his 2010 study but did not consider the 2020 update or a subsequent study he led on structural factors behind varying Covid outcomes.

Marmot also criticised the report’s contention that health inequalities should be considered an outcome of factors such as deprivation and poor housing rather than ethnicity. Such social conditions “are themselves the result of longstanding inequalities and structural racism”, he noted.

The report’s focus on disparities due to social class was only part of the story, Marmot argued. “There are health differences between races that are not fully explained by class, and so therefore racism must play some role. To put it simply, these two issues may overlap but they are not the same thing.”


English councils handing huge extra care bills to disabled and mentally ill adults

If anyone is either surprised by this story or tempted to blame local government they should think again. This is a direct consequence of our ongoing failure to properly calibrate the way adult social care is paid for and delivered. As usual local government gets the blame. This story tells us:

Adults with a disability or mental illness are receiving extra care bills running into thousands of pounds that they say could force them to cut back on food and heating and threaten their social independence.

Amid a care funding crisis, some English councils are quietly increasing charges to people with learning disabilities and mental illness, in effect clawing back welfare payments and leaving some working-age adults with little more than £3 a day to spend.

People facing the charges fear they will be unable to afford enough clothes and worry that basic pleasures like swimming trips will have to stop. One single man living with bipolar disorder said he may have to put down his dog because he will be unable to afford to look after it.

Care charities have drawn up dossiers of charges they describe as a new “care tax” and say it is a result of national underfunding of social care. The Health Foundation has estimated that at least an additional £6bn a year is needed to meet growing demand, rising to £14bn if the country wants to improve access to care and pay more to staff, many of whom earn minimum wage.

Mencap, the learning disability charity, said it had received dozens of “concerning” calls to its helpline about the issue, and its chief executive, Edel Harris, said it was “causing huge distress for them and their families, ?and leaving many without enough money to cover their additional needs”.

Some people are refusing to pay and are considering legal challenges. Care Act guidance says charges must be “reasonably practicable” for people to pay and that the approach to charging should promote “independence, choice and control”.


And Finally…

A surprising UK staycation spot is trending above all others right now

And finally a very interesting list of go to rural retreats, which looking at the geographies concerned is driven by Lincoln methinks. This piece tells us:

After months of being cooped up at home, Britons aren't looking for a popular beach break in Cornwall or lively city escape in London to celebrate the end of lockdown. In fact, research from Airbnb has revealed the 10 trending UK locations for a summer staycation and the list will surprise you.

When it comes to their first holiday out of lockdown, Brits have been searching for the town of St Clears in Carmarthenshire for a self-catering break.

With Welsh self-catering stays already allowed for people living in Wales, the friendly town, which is home to craft centres, a celebrated butcher and local shops, could be the ideal alternative to visiting popular spots, like nearby Tenby, Llandudno or St David's this summer.

The ancient Forest of the Dean in Gloucestershire has seen the second biggest increase in searches by Brits, followed by pretty village Clovelly in Devon, Bosham in Sussex and Primrose Valley in Yorkshire.

Airbnb's top 10 trending UK locations for summer 2021

St Clears, Carmarthenshire
Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire
Clovelly, Devon
Bosham, Sussex
Primrose Valley, Yorkshire
Mullion, Cornwall
Cawsand, Cornwall
Noss Mayo, Devon
Saunton, Devon
East Wittering, Sussex


About the author:
Hinterland is written for the Rural Services Network by Ivan Annibal, of rural economic practitioners Rose Regeneration.


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