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Tackling Rural Poverty Among Older Adults

Resource type: Grantee Story

People who live in rural poverty often remain invisible to society, obscured physically by beautiful scenery and statistically by their wide geographic dispersion. This is particularly true for older people who live in rural poverty.Nearly one-third of the rural elderly in Northern Ireland exist on very low incomes. Many, especially older, single women, often occupy the worst housing there is.

The Rural Community Network (RCN) conducted in-depth research that highlighted some of the key issues affecting older people living in rural poverty, including the central roles that voluntary and community groups play in their lives.

The organisation’s important findings and recommendation were omitted, however, from the government’s official strategies for assisting older people, entitled “Ageing in an Inclusive Society: Promoting the Social Inclusion of Older People.” As a consequence, the needs of the poor, rural elderly in the country have been left unaddressed.

Purpose and Impact of the Grant

RCN is using its Atlantic grant to attempt to address the needs of Northern Ireland’s poor, rural elderly.

The organisation is preparing detailed case studies on a number of the social issues affecting older poor people living in rural areas, including transportation, social isolation, housing, accessibility and community safety; as well as issues impeding the groups that seek to serve this population, including health care policy, community services, training and relationship building. The final report will combine the findings and recommendations of these smaller studies to identify the overall implicating of ageing among the poor, rural elderly.

In the short term, RCN’s work will provide a clearer, more substantive understanding of the issues affecting the older rural poor, including updated statistics and recommendations for initiatives that could help alleviate social problems. Over a longer timescale, the research findings should inform the work of advocates fighting on behalf of older people who live in rural poverty.

Related Resources



Global Impact:

Northern Ireland


RCN, rural areas, Rural Community Network