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


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.

Corresponding author
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:
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This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. 2006. Rural Services Review: Reviewing Standards. Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, London.

P. Dwyer 2000. Welfare Rights and Responsibilities: Contesting Social Citizenship. Policy Press, Bristol, UK.

Help the Aged, Age Concern England, Commission for Rural Communities and Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs2005. Delivering for Older People in Rural Areas: A Good Practice Guide. Help the Aged, London.

J. Hills , J. Le Grand and D. Piachaud (eds)2002. Understanding Social Exclusion. Oxford University Press, Oxford.

L. Sopp , W. Miller and J. Gunnell 2007. Well-being and Lone Older Men: The Peterborough and Fenlands Study. Age Concern Research Services with Age Concern Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, UK.

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Ageing & Society
  • ISSN: 0144-686X
  • EISSN: 1469-1779
  • URL: /core/journals/ageing-and-society
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