The Prince’s Countryside Fund invests £6million in Five Years in Projects Supporting the Countryside
The Prince’s Countryside Fund celebrates its fifth anniversary this week by announcing over £800,000 of additional investment in rural initiatives to train young people, help farm businesses, improve rural livelihoods and create thriving rural communities in Britain. In the five years since its inception, The Fund has distributed over £6 million in 5 years providing grants for 135 projects benefiting 100,000 people in rural communities.
Putting rural affairs back on the agenda, HRH the Prince of Wales writes in a forward to the “Countryside Matters” supplement in the Telegraph on Saturday saying that in an increasingly urban world, rural communities are often taken for granted.
HRH The Prince of Wales writes, “My Countryside Fund supports the people who care for our countryside. Without them, our national life would be immeasurably poorer. Yet, in an increasingly urban world it would be all too easy to take to take rural communities for granted.”
“Our countryside is a place of great beauty, providing tranquillity, recreation and spiritual refreshment to many of us, but it is also a working and productive environment, shaped and maintained by generations of human activity and with a distinctive rural culture .Without sustainable economic activity to support vibrant communities, including local schools, affordable housing, shops, pubs and other amenities, much that is special about our countryside will rapidly disappear forever—and we will lose something that is of inestimable value to us all.”
Founded by HRH The Prince of Wales to help secure a brighter future for British farmers and the countryside in the five years since its inception, funding has helped:
310 rural communities improve service provision
4975 farm businesses become more sustainable
2,530 rural enterprises to develop and thrive
5,600 young people become trained in rural skills
35,000 people to improve their understanding of the value of the countryside
A precious and fundamental asset to Britain, the countryside is home to a quarter of the population and produces 60 per cent of the food we eat. But rural communities, so crucial to a thriving countryside, continue to face grave challenges. Rural services continue to decline, an ageing rural population is becoming increasingly isolated and the food and farming industry is in desperate need of 60,000 new entrants.
Recipients of new grants for July 2015 include The Royal Forestry Society, for a ‘Future Foresters’ programme to promote woodland management, Fresh Start Land Enterprise
Centre, to encourage new entrants into farming, and the Plunkett Foundation, which helps rural communities tackle the problems they face by working together through co-operative action, to save village shops and pubs.
Claire Saunders, Director of The Prince’s Countryside Fund, explains; “As we celebrate the 5th anniversary of The Prince’s Countryside Fund during National Countryside Week, it’s incredibly encouraging to see the positive impact of the funding on the projects and communities we have supported to date.
“But the countryside continues to face unprecedented challenges across a wide range of complex issues, from loss of rural services, punishing prices for dairy farmers to rural connectivity. So we are asking the public to give generously in order for the Fund to continue its essential work securing a sustainable future for our precious rural communities.”