The English countryside is often painted as a Constable or a Turner; ‘an idyll to retreat to’; ‘an urban playground’. However, not only is it also a place where many make their living, it is a place that creates a great number of difficulties for those who live there, particularly the elderly. In fact, a recent report by charity Age UK has found that elderly people have numerous issues to face in their daily lives. Major problems include cuts to bus services, high cost of heating, a lack of shops, poor access to health and social care and poor internet access, among others.
The issue should be raised because the rural population in the UK is becoming increasingly older. According to a BBC article ‘approximately half of the rural population is aged over 45, compared with 36% in major urban areas’. This is a rising statistic. The problem is that lack of such services leaves people feeling increasingly isolated and isolation brings loneliness. Obviously this is not the whole picture and I wouldn’t want to illustrate rural communities as being closed and un-neighbourly. In my experience that is definitely not the case. However, communities could do more. We can always do more. Services cost money but friendliness and keeping an eye out for your elderly neighbours or making some conversation costs nothing. It is part of a wider social change as we are told that are communities are ‘breaking down’ – a self fulfilling prophecy perhaps?
Either way, the report has shown that communication and transport are vital for the elderly rural population to go about their daily lives. Cuts are necessary, I realise that. However, there are some things that deserve subsidies and it is when people suffer mentally and emotionally that the cogs should tick and subsidies should not be removed.