Helping hand offer to end rural isolation

David Ingham (right), with Anne Huson of the Ribble Valley Village Hall Association and Hylda Emsden of the Clitheroe Cookery Club. (s)

David Ingham (right), with Anne Huson of the Ribble Valley Village Hall Association and Hylda Emsden of the Clitheroe Cookery Club. (s)

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Ribble Valley Borough Council has backed a community campaign to tackle rural isolation.

It has joined forces with the Ribble Valley Village Hall Association to launch the Good Neighbours scheme, which funds activities in village halls and community centres aimed at helping rural residents overcome isolation and loneliness.

Good Neighbours has funded a range of activities in 14 villages that attracted more than 700 participants in 2015, including local history, IT skills, art, dancing, exercise sessions and drop-ins.

It granted £750 to the Clitheroe Cookery Club, which meets weekly at the Trinity Community Centre, offering courses in food preparation and hygiene.

The six-week courses, facilitated by Clitheroe Churches Together, with support from Tesco, are open to all residents and include free childminding.

Ribble Valley Borough Council leader Stuart Hirst said: “We are delighted to support Good Neighbours, which is helping communities start activities for vulnerable and isolated neighbours, allowing them to engage with others and overcome isolation.

“Village halls are the heart of rural life, binding communities together, sustaining the health and wellbeing of residents and providing services and activities essential for those without access to transport.”

Good Neighbours coordinator David Ingham added: “Village halls in Ribble Valley have a rich cultural history. Many were originally memorials to those who gave their lives in the First or Second World Wars, or were converted from former schoolhouses.

“People are living longer and, if they continue to live independently in their own homes, will increasingly need to access services and activities locally.

“Good Neighbours allows us to explore using village and community halls to deliver cost-effective services aimed at maintaining quality of life, particularly for rural dwellers disadvantaged by lack of transport.”

Good Neighbours offers grants for hall hire and the cost of a trainer or facilitator for the first 12 weeks of an activity.

Further information about the scheme is available from David Ingham on 07803 930830.