An initiative designed to research and better understand rural young people, aged 18-28, is being launched today. The Rural Youth Project coincides with the 2018 Year of Young People and will combine an online survey, year-long in-depth video logs (vlogs) of 15-20 rural young people and a Rural Youth Ideas Festival.
The target countries for the research are: England, Scotland, Wales and, internationally, Austria, Australia and the USA.
The initiative is a social enterprise venture and is the brainchild of Jane Craigie and Rebecca Dawes. The Rural Youth Project has the support of partners interested and engaged in the rural youth ‘space’, they are LANTRA Scotland, the Scottish Association of Young Farmers (SAYFC), Scottish Enterprise, Scottish Rural Action, Scottish Rural Network and YouthLink Scotland, and will be managed by Jane Craigie Marketing.
Inspired by their participation in leadership initiatives, including the Scottish Enterprise Rural Leadership Programme and the Windsor Leadership Programme, Jane and Rebecca aim to identify and engage young rural leaders to help them drive positive change within their local rural communities.
“Rural young people are fundamental to the vibrancy, energy and economic outlook of rural places,” explains Jane Craigie. “We wanted to better understand what young people perceive their challenges and opportunities to be, as well as gaining a better understanding of their degree of optimism for the future.”
Rebecca Dawes, with her background in the SAYFC, added that there is a real lack of insight into this important group within our rural communities, hence the decision to run this project.
She said: “the research to date amongst rural young people, both nationally and internationally, has been fragmented, but what we do know is that rural areas have a lower percentage of 16-34 year-olds and evidence suggests that migration of young people away from rural areas hinges on education, employment opportunities, housing and public transport availability – some of the many research areas that we are surveying.
“With so much emphasis on youth this year, we want to make sure that rural young people have a voice that will be heard, what better way is there to share their outlook?”
The project, which will be repeated annually, aims to research a wide range of rural young people including those working in education, farming, retail and hospitality, as well as those who are in full time education, or unemployed.
“The project, which will be repeated in 2019-22, has the bold ambition to better inform society and policy-makers about the vibrant talent that is held amongst our rural youth, and to compare our findings with those from other countries around the world.
James Rose explained why the Scottish Rural Network are supporting the project “The future of rural Scotland is in the hands of its young people. In 2018, the Year of Young People, The Scottish Rural Network (SRN) is supporting the Rural Youth Project to gain a vital insight into what matters to young people in rural areas and bring together the people who will define our rural communities in the years to come.”
Penny Montgomerie from SAYFC added “Young people need to have the confidence to drive policy and influence decision makers on matters that impact them rather than relying on older generations to make presumptions on their needs.”
Jane Craigie Marketing will use their wide-reaching networks within the international agricultural and rural leadership community and the International Federation of Agricultural Journalists to publicise the project and its outcomes.
The survey will open on 26 January and close on 30 April 2018. The incentive for completing the survey is a pair of tickets to the TRANSMT Festival in Glasgow on 8 July or a pair of tickets for ButeFest 2018.
The 2018 Project will culminate in a three-day Rural Youth Ideas Festival, run by Jane Craigie Marketing on 20-22 July in rural Scotland and an action plan developed by the Project partners.
The survey can be reached via the Project website www.ruralyouthproject.com