24/03/2014 Press Release: RAY launches Big Skill Share

Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) has launched a new drive to encourage more people to share skills with neighbours, friends and those who may be more isolated in their community.  The Rural Skill Share is inviting people to pledge some time and know-how, whether this is ten minutes, or something more regular, to support someone learn something new such as emailing a photograph, or changing a fuse.  RAY believes each person who signs up has the potential to make a really positive impact on those they help.

The idea for the Rural Skill Share has come from a major project which the charity has just completed, working alongside Age UK.  The Touchstones project helped bereaved older people to learn new practical skills which ranged from cooking nutritious meals for one, to using computers and even basic car maintenance.  The project focused on encouraging people to learn new skills they had relied on somebody else for previously.

RAY’s Chief Officer, Leah Swain, explained “We knew there was a need to develop new solutions to some of the issues experienced by older people and to develop support networks especially for bereaved people but we have been very inspired by the people who got involved with Touchstones.  The response to our work has been incredible and we really wanted to maintain the project’s legacy and to build on the success of Touchstones so far.”

Touchstones supported over two hundred older people and involved around fifty volunteers and there were many moving stories told by those who became regulars at the sessions.  Joan explained her need for learning different approaches to her cooking “When my husband died I found that preparing food really brought home that I was on my own.  It took me a while to adjust and stop cooking so many potatoes”.  Being shown new recipes encouraged others to try different dishes themselves at home and get the confidence to have a go.

Christine went to many of the Touchstones sessions in Wakefield and felt that getting new computer skills helped her to get on with life and not feel so helpless waiting for someone to visit her and sort something out:

“Your own family are good and helpful, but they’re also busy and you need to wait.  It’s depressing waiting for someone to come and help you and it’s easy to feel isolated and lonely if you don’t have the skills you need”.

To pledge your time to teach others a new skill, visit www.ruralyorkshire.org.uk/ruralskillshare.  Who you choose to help and what you choose to teach is completely up to you and could include practical tips on running a home, or some insight into accessing benefits, or applying for jobs. [ENDS]

Editor’s notes

To arrange an interview, or for images, please contact Rebecca Craven on 0845 313 0270.

Rural Action Yorkshire

Based at Askham Bryan, near York, RAY is one of 37 Rural Community Councils in England.  It isan independent charitable and voluntary organisation working across rural areas of North, South and West Yorkshire and the City of York, to help communities improve the quality of life for all people living and working in rural Yorkshire. Key work includes:

* Providing advice and grant support for sustainable multi-use community buildings, which can act as a focal point for village services

* Helping local communities carry out community led plans, which identify the strengths and weaknesses of village life and plan how the local community sees future development taking place

RAY and the other rural community councils in England form the ACRE Network.

Find Rural Action Yorkshire online at www.ruralyorkshire.org.ukand twitter.com/ruralyorkshire, facebook.com/ruralactionyorkshire


Touchstones ran from September 2012 until February 2014 and was funded by the Big Lottery and the Daily Mail.  The project was a partnership between Rural Action Yorkshire and Age UK and delivered support in the Harrogate, Wakefield and Craven areas.  It supported bereaved older people whose partner had died.

To read more case studies, or to request a copy of the Touchstones Story booklet, please visit www.ruralyorkshire.org.uk/RuralSkillShare