Two Dales Live - Richmondshire

Overview and Background:
Remote rural communities in Swaledale use a new videolink which allowed them to access services in a new way.

Swaledale is geographically remote from major settlements and integrated transport links and has poor access to services. It has a sparse population and community facilities and businesses can struggle to be sustainable. The demographic changes taking place in the area mean trends towards an older rural population, while young people are continuing to move away in search of affordable housing, jobs and education.

The aim of the project was to look at new ways of tackling rural disadvantage and the issues caused by distance to services and isolation in these remote areas.

The approach: 

RAY has years of experience working closely with rural communities to provide tailored and comprehensive support to enhance their quality of life and access to services.

In finding a solution, there was a need for funding, finding equipment which could be operated with little or no IT knowledge, appropriate venues and also trained officers at the service provider’s end.

We worked with North Yorkshire County Council and community representatives, providing support for a major funding application and extensive project management. It was also important to build capacity within the communities so that they could manage the facility themselves once the initial project finished. RAY’s role included getting partners involved in offering their services in this new way.

The project was funded by the Yorkshire Forward PSA4 Intervention Fund , Big Lottery Awards for All, Community Champions, LSC, Richmondshire Local Strategic Partnership and private sector funding.

The outcome: 

The project was launched in five villages in 2008: Gunnerside, Keld, Muker, Marrick and Reeth. It allows users to have confidential face to face interviews, share documents, signatures and photographs, via a broadband connection.

At present the system can connect people to Richmondshire District Council, Richmondshire Citizens Advice Bureau, The Little Red Bus Company, Richmondshire Council for Voluntary Services, Hambleton & Richmond Carers’ Association and the local GP based in Reeth.

Key benefits for residents are:

  • Access to a wide range of services via a broadband link.

  • A reduction in travel time and associated costs

  • A reduction in carbon emissions from fewer journeys being made

  • Empowered to improve the places in which they live by shaping services to be more responsive to their needs.

  • Increased opportunities for volunteering

  • Increased opportunities for older people to learn about new technology and to develop confidence in using digital equipment.

What next: 

The Steering Group and Management Group are exploring ways to deliver an increased range of services and to connect Wensleydale to the existing system. They will also seek to improve the quality of the internet services in the area and access to broadband.

The people who live in this area have also identified that they need better access to opportunities for learning and skills training and personal development.