Yorkshire community has the biggest increase in over-65s

Sylvia Bartle, Jeanette Martin, Coun Ros Jump, Sandra Martin, Jean Dex, and Jean Kendal walking through Dunswell, near Beverley, a village in Yorkshire that has the most rapidly ageing population.  Picture Tony Johnson.
Sylvia Bartle, Jeanette Martin, Coun Ros Jump, Sandra Martin, Jean Dex, and Jean Kendal walking through Dunswell, near Beverley, a village in Yorkshire that has the most rapidly ageing population. Picture Tony Johnson.
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Just a few miles away, Dunswell has experienced a similar change to Cherry Burton, but on a grander scale. It has seen
the most rapid increase in over-65s in Yorkshire – rising from four per cent to 30 per cent of the population in the past 30 years.

Close to the River Hull, on a flat expanse, it has seen no new sprawling housing estates in recent years due to the flood risk of its location, and with people keen to stay put, the population has not regenerated.

In Dunswell, the problem, ward councillor Ros Jump says, is that village has no real centre, and people are “psychologically divorced” from each other as the housing is either side along the spur roads to Beverley and Cottingham.

Coun Jump, who attends St Faith’s Church in Dunswell, said: “To say it’s a dying area is wrong, but it is a struggling one because of its older population and having nothing for people to centre on.”

For the people who live there, there is very little to do in the day.

“The people who do work, work out of the area,” she said. “The few people left there during the day have nothing to do.

“At the church, we’re desperate to get people in, but there isn’t the footfall to open up a cafe, for example. I don’t know what the magic bullet is for this – the front of it is, it means loneliness for a lot of people.

“However, that’s not to say there isn’t a strong community spirit among the older ones. There’s an unofficial network of care, with neighbours looking out for each other, taking those who don’t have a car shopping, that type of thing.”

One active group in the village is a branch of the Yorkshire Countrywomen’s Association, which meet monthly at St Faith’s.

Chairwoman Jean Bex, 71, came to Dunswell 36 years ago, and says much of the community spirit that was evident then, remains.

She said: “On our side of the road, people watch out for each other. We had a spate of burglaries two years ago , and people were wonderful. I live alone and people would say, ‘call me in the middle of the night, I will come’.”

The Countrywomen’s group has around 30 members, and they are keen to reach out to people in the village who might be isolated.

Mrs Bex added: “We’re seeing more women come along who none of us knew before, and we’ve even introduced name badges to make it easier for people to get to know one another.”