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We need to give people who don't usually visit the countryside the confidence ...
We need to give people who don't usually visit the countryside the confidence

and the means to fully enjoy the recreational benefits of our rural areas,

according to Countryside Agency deputy chair Pam Warhurst.

Speaking today Pam Warhurst said: 'Getting to and enjoying

what our countryside has to offer is a real problem for some people. For those

in towns it might be because of lack of public transport, lack of information,

lack of income, physical disability or sense of isolation. or it may be for

rural people a lack of transport services, social isolation, low incomes and

a sense of powerlessness - their needs often hidden, obscured in what is

perceived generally as a more affluent community.

'We need to reach all these people. What matters is need to overturn and

overcome the barriers that prevent them from visiting the countryside and

recreational pursuits and provide more for them in the countryside and urban

green spaces, particularly those on their doorstep.

'The government's Rural White Paper has set the challenge to: 'encourage more

people with disabilities, more people from the ethnic minorities, more people

from the inner cities and more young people to visit the countryside and

participate in countryside activities, initially by seeking their views on what

they need to enjoy the countryside.

'People need to feel welcome, and that means getting the right sort of

information to them wherever they live.'

The Countryside Agency is taking this seriously, and our initiatives to address

it include:

* creating a 'Rural Social Exclusion Advisory Group' to guide our work

and provide links with other key social exclusion initiatives

* increasing the range of recreational opportunities where people want

them - the countryside in and around towns and in our national parks and areas

of outstanding natural beauty

* doubling to£10m the Rural Transport and Parish Transport Fund

to help improve access to the countryside

* endeavouring to reach people who until now may have little experience

of countryside recreation by improving information on recreation opportunities

* starting research that will give us a better understanding of why a

wider cross-section of society are not using the countryside for recreation

* developing a National Park Multi Cultural Initiative to encourage

people from ethnic minorities to enjoy the countryside and research the

barriers that may prevent this

The Countryside Agency believes that recreation and access to the countryside

can play a key part in regenerating and rebuilding communities, contributing to

improvements in health and a wide range of social and economic benefits.

Social Inclusion in Countryside Leisure in the United Kingdom: The Role of the

Countryside in Addressing Social Inclusion - A Report for the Countryside

Recreation Network was commissioned by the UK countryside agencies to develop

understanding of issues of social exclusion and inclusion in countryside

recreation. Copies of the report are available from CRN at£10. Contact:

Countryside Recreation Network, Dept of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff

University, King Edward VII Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3WA. Tel: 029 2087 4970, fax:

029 2087 4728, e-mail:

The Executive Summary is available on the CRN website.

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