Ageing and Society

Articles

Promoting social inclusion? The impact of village services on the lives of older people living in rural England

PETER DWYERa1 c1 and IRENE HARDILLa2

a1 School of Social Work, Psychology and Public Health, University of Salford, UK.

a2 Department of Social Sciences, Northumbria University, UK.

ABSTRACT

Drawing on data from a qualitative study, this paper explores the impact of ‘village services’ on the lives of people aged 70 or more years living in rural England. Throughout the paper, the phrase ‘village services’ refers to six community-based services and activities provided to help meet the needs of older rural residents, namely lunch clubs, welfare rights information and advice services, befriending schemes and community warden support, in rural areas in three regions of England. It is argued that, in various ways, village services promote social inclusion by enhancing older rural residents' access to the resources, rights, goods and services that encourage social interaction and meaningful participation in community life. It is clear, however, that the overwhelming majority of users of village services are female, that older men are often reluctant to engage with the services on offer, and that the providers of village services need to find new and innovative ways of engaging with older men in rural areas. It is concluded that restricted revenue and capital resources means that the expansion of village services so that they may better meet the requirements of older rural men is unlikely.

(Accepted August 13 2010)

(Online publication November 15 2010)

Correspondence:

c1 Address for correspondence: Peter Dwyer, School of Social Work, Psychology and Public Health, University of Salford, Room L828, Allerton Building, Frederick Street, Salford M6 6PU, UK. E-mail: p.j.dwyer@salford.ac.uk