Rural Advocate with Glendale Gateway Trust

Empowering Northumberland

​In March 2023, Professor Mark Shucksmith from Newcastle University presented findings from research about hardship and vulnerability in rural areas at an event at the Cheviot Centre in Wooler.  

​The research raised 9 challenges: 

  • ​Many rural residents are at risk of poverty 
  • ​There is a real rural cost of living crisis 
  • ​The welfare system is not well adapted to rural lives 
  • ​Rural work opportunities are often volatile and irregular 
  • ​There are barriers to entering self-employment and developing small businesses in rural areas 
  • ​Centralisation and digitalisation in the organisations providing support mean they do not reach well into rural areas 
  • ​Accessing suitable and affordable housing in rural areas remains difficult  
  • ​There is a crisis in social care delivery in rural areas. 
  • ​Developing a hopeful narrative about an area is important to the well-being of rural areas  

A Rural Advocate role

​Following a presentation of the findings there was workshop to review what support is currently being provided, where the gaps are and how services could be improved. It became clear at the workshop that something innovative was required in order to better support rural communities in North Northumberland. People can often feel isolated from the services and people at Northumberland County Council and other organisations. A role was required to help alleviate those feelings of disconnection and react quickly to issues that occur and provide information to the communities in a timely manner.  

​The Glendale Gateway Trust developed the idea of a Rural Advocate, working in partnership with Thriving Together and Northumberland County Council agreed to fund a 12-month pilot. 

The CEO of The Glendale Gateway Trust,

Karen Froggatt, explains more: 

Karen said:

"​People in rural areas are finally given a voice that can be heard at local and regional government level and this voice should influence the decisions made around the changes and development of statutory services. People in rural areas will feel less disconnected from the decision makers and understand how they can access services and keep safe and well."

Contact details:

​Karen Froggatt