Chinese to meet ACRE in rural poverty mission
by Claire McGine, Head of Communications

A 20-strong Chinese delegation arrives in Cirencester on Thursday (August 8) to find out how communities tackle poverty and deprivation in rural England.

Staff from the International Poverty Reduction Center in China have asked to meet the team of rural experts at ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England).

ACRE, the umbrella body for England’s 38 rural community councils, will explain how its Network helps communities to help themselves.

“The culture and landscape in China may be very different but our rural communities face many similar problems."

The delegates are especially keen to learn how ACRE works with the Government to help shape rural policies and to find out more about the challenges facing country dwellers.

ACRE chief executive Janice Banks said: “The culture and landscape in China may be very different but our rural communities face many similar problems.

“Issues such as caring for an ageing population, difficulties in accessing services such as healthcare and the migration of younger people to cities affect rural communities around the world.

“We’ll be talking about how our Network finds solutions to these problems – whether it’s a befriending scheme for the elderly or a community transport project which helps people get to vital hospital appointments.

“A place to meet for social gatherings for the old and young is important in isolated communities where access to public and private transport is an issue.We’ll describe how village halls provide this facility as well as being centres from which services such as clinics, shops, post offices, and playgroups can be operated.

“We’ll also explain how ACRE uses intelligence gathered from the 40,000 grass roots contacts across our Network to help the Government ‘rural proof’ policies across a wide range of departments.

“We’re very much looking forward to exchanging knowledge and ideas with the International Poverty Reduction Center on their fact-finding mission.”

ACRE is in its third year of a funding agreement with Defra (Department for Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs) and reports back regularly on a wide range issues affecting rural communities, from welfare reform to broadband.

Ms Banks added: “Ours is the biggest rural network in England and its role is to make sure the voice of rural communities is heard at the highest level in Government.”