Seven projects were supported by the RARP under this theme to reflect on their sucessful provision of services to date in rural areas. The overall findings can be distilled into two main observations;
Firstly, in order to increase “co-production” of rural services, the RARP Partners felt that there needed to be a building of peoples’ confidence to engage and share experiences with one another. Partners know that trusted relationships underpin the sustainability of service provision in rural areas, and – through the RARP projects - they have all seen the creation and maintenance of new relationships as part of the process of the project(s), with many sectors – that is, not only those on the ground, but also those in a variety of institutions (public, private and voluntary).
Secondly, RARP partners also identified the need for flexibility in their approaches, in order to adapt the changing situations (political, resources, peoples’ responses, opportunities etc). RARP partners found that there was a variability in responses to the service projects at ground-level, relating to organisational “readiness” of the public sector, available resources, commitment (e.g. genuine rather than tick-box) and enthusiasm. This diversity and variability both between projects over a project’s lifetime require sensitivity in how best to take things forward, in ways that are likely to last beyond project life-cycles. This showed the skills needed by RARP partners in keeping the service provision alive – being able to “read” and adapt to the situations, people and politics around them, whilst still maintaining effective partnerships.
Lead consultant, Sarah Skerratt wrote a briefing that summarised the work. The partners' full reports can be ordered from Carnegie UK Trust.