Standing up for the poor and lonely in our countryside

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From: Philippa Coultish, Chairman, Yorkshire Rural Support Network, Regional Agricultural Society, Great Yorkshire Showground, Harrogate.

THE recent articles in The Yorkshire Post highlighting the varied strands of rural loneliness and poverty made for sobering reading and you are to be congratulated for examining this serious issue.

I write as a farmer’s wife and chairman of the Yorkshire Rural Support Network. The Network, which is hosted by the Yorkshire Agricultural Society, brings together a range of different organisations, but all with the shared goal of reducing the distress suffered by those living on the breadline in the villages of rural Yorkshire. Our members know only too well the reality of such problems in the so called “rural idyll”.

As an organisation, we have found that what is needed is for organisations to share best practice. Only in this way can help be best targeted. An example of this was at our last meeting when a Ryedale-based Salvation Army major spoke to our members about his work as did Jacqui Goff, who has set up community cafés in West Yorkshire.

Farmers are notoriously proud and independent people, and poverty is insidious. If we don’t want our rural communities to be decimated and farmers to become an endangered species, it is incumbent on us all to be aware that our friend, neighbour or relation may be suffering in silence, but looking for a voice. That voice could be yours.

From: Brian H Sheridan, Redmires Road, Sheffield.

THE Yorkshire Post has a fine record for supporting worthy causes over the years but am I alone in finding the latest campaign for elderly men on behalf of the Royal Voluntary Services somewhat patronising (Yorkshire Post, February 26)?

Carol Nevison, the RVS head of operations for the North, reports that “many men are facing loneliness and not asking for help”. Could it be that they are stoics, a breed far too rare in these days of forced sociability and fussiness that comes with the nanny state?

I have nothing but respect for the RVS and I love the Yorkshire Post but there are a lot of people out there more needy than healthy old men. By the way, I am 78.