Landscapes of Support is funded by UKRI, via ESRC, to better understand the social impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on rural communities and economies (a neglected group in research on ‘left behind’ communities), specifically agriculture and issues around so called ‘harder-to-reach’ farmers. It also connects indirectly to economic impacts in limiting the scarring effects of the pandemic and its damage to natural, physical and social capital.

The project addresses the following key research contexts:

  • Geographies of COVID-19 are complex. While urban areas have generally seen more COVID-19 deaths, rural areas have higher vulnerabilities (due to older demographics, economic reliance on tourism and hospitality and pockets of socio-economic deprivation), and experience different challenges, such as access to testing facilities, emergency food (MacCanich et al. 2020), and online services (Philipson et al., 2020).
  • ‘Harder-to-reach’ farmers are a vulnerable group. Many experience low mental health, social isolation and exclusion from policy, as characterised in earlier research by the project team (Hurley et al., in review). This project will bring valuable insights about the reach (and limitations) of civil society support throughout the pandemic and how they can be better supported to build individual and community resilience.
  • Civil society’s role in levelling up communities. We need to identify the impacts of COVID-19 across regions and agricultural sectors. We also need to understand the potential role and capacity of civil society organisations in supporting the post-COVID recovery, in the content of enabling just post-Brexit agricultural transitions.

Landscapes of Support aims to have academic, economic and societal impacts within and beyond the life of the 12 month project. These will include reports, policy briefs, videos and visual materials, academic articles and presentations. We also aim to make an important academic contribution, addressing the key challenge of rural resilience and ‘left behind’ communities (links with several ESRC “Governance after Brexit” projects) with relevance for ESRC priorities, such as mental health and new ways of being in a digital age.

Supported by established partnerships and a strong steering committee, impacts of the project will be multiplied across the devolved administrations through recommendations on how civil society organisations can be better supported to deliver vital services to farmers.

If you’d like to find out more about the project or would like to be involved, please get in touch.