Village SOS - deadline looms

APPLICATIONS for funding from the Village SOS scheme are due to close at 2.30pm on 12 September.

Operated by the Big Lottery Fund, Village SOS is looking to award grants of £10,000-£50,000 for enterprising community enterprises.

Funding opened on 10 April for rural villages or small rural towns with populations of no more than 3000 people.

Rules mean that organisation submitting an application must be local to the community in question.

Funding can be used to pay some or all costs for the first year of an enterprise but projects costing more than £100,000 won't be funded.

Only one application per community will be considered.

They can come from voluntary and community groups or organisations such as charities, village committees, associations, trusts, co-operatives or social enterprises

Applications from parish, town or community councils will also be considered so long as local residents have clearly shaped the project.

Funding details can be seen by clicking here.

The scheme aims to help people in rural areas start community enterprises that will breathe new life into their village.

Earlier this year, a leading academic warned that efforts to preserve a 'picture postcard' countryside were turning rural villages into wealthy ghettos.

Mark Shucksmith, professor of planning at Newcastle University, said spiralling house prices in some rural communities were driving poorer people out of the countryside.

Affordable rural housing was essential to the vitality and sustainability of rural areas and was crucial for less prosperous members of rural societies to thrive, he warned.

Prof Shucksmith is director of Newcastle University's Institute for Social Renewal.

Average house prices in rural areas exceed those in urban areas of England by around 25%, and the smaller the village, the higher the price, he said.

Houses in these areas cost nearly 11 times the average household income.

"It should be no surprise to us that powerful groups prevail in designing rural policy and planning, and that less powerful groups are generally excluded from decisions," said Prof Shucksmith.

"However, what is surprising is there is also a hidden dimension where people's perceptions are shaped in such a way that they accept the status quo as natural or inevitable."


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