IMPORTANT LEGAL NOTICE: The information on this site is subject to a disclaimer and a copyright notice.

Fighting social exclusion in rural areas

[ Summary ]


Chapter 3:
Taking action against social exclusion in
rural areas: what methods? what tools?


After highlighting the reasons why globally speaking the fight against social exclusion is today a major challenge for rural development (chapter I) and examining a few methodological ways to determine the problem in a rural area and consequently to devise strategies (chapter II), we are now going to look at the possible means of intervention.

To do so we will refer to past or ongoing experiences of fighting social exclusion which take advantage of local resources and use innovative approaches. In fact Europe has a large number of actions of this kind, but usually they are not part of LEADER.


3.1 Targeted local actions, the start
of a more comprehensive territorial approach


The examples used for this analysis are varied enough that comparisons can be made and relatively solid general and transversal lessons can be drawn. Seven actions to fight social exclusion have been selected for this first exercise. A detailed description of these actions can be found in the directory published by the LEADER European Observatory “Innovative Actions of Rural Development” [24]. They are:

  • The creation in Cornouaille morbihannaise and in Pays Pourbet (Brittany, France) of an enterprise to help the long-term unemployed find work in the building sector with the support of the LEADER group of Centre-Ouest Bretagne (Central West Brittany). What makes this action special is that it combines different local development interventions aimed at the fight against social exclusion such as the return to work of unemployed people, the renovation of empty village houses and the creation of a social rental housing stock for homeless families.

  • The work done by the “CILDEA” association in the Loire (Auvergne, France) for farmers in difficulty living on income support (RMI). The association has set up a system where very successful farmers, including farmers who have local responsibilities (presidents of cooperatives, former mayors, etc.), give assistance and guidance to farmers in difficulty.

  • The social cooperative of Valle di Non (province of Trento, Italy), created for the disabled people of the area, which after operating for many years in a conventional way (organisation of specific services for the disabled such as housing, education, and recreational activities) decided in 1997 to begin a form of “community development” involving families in order to develop personalised links and services that enable the disabled to become better integrated socially.

  • The “time bank” created in Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna (Emilia- Romagna, Italy) to satisfy the demand for services that could be provided by people of the region. The “time exchange” system set up for this purpose enables a great flow of contacts between those in search of services and the service providers.

  • The creation of an alternative system of transport in County Angus (Scotland, United Kingdom) to satisfy the needs of geographically isolated people without any personal means of transport. The privatisation of public transport worsened what was already not a good situation and in fact led the LEADER group to launch a system where the different forms of transport in existence (school transport, mail delivery, milk collection, door-to-door salesmen, etc.) could be used by isolated people.

  • The resettlement in rural areas of urban families threatened with exclusion, a movement organised by the Irish association RRI (Rural Resettlement Ireland).

  • The experiment carried out in Utajärvi Oulu (Finland) to combine assistance for elderly people with childminding. In addition to cutting down on personnel, this system enables the formation of a very enriching social link between children and isolated elderly people.

These different actions and the many others not mentioned here were created to solve specific problems of social exclusion in rural areas. They were the work of local associations, municipalities and in some cases even individuals aware of these problems and in a position to explore new forms of intervention.

The inspiration for some of these actions comes from solutions already attempted elsewhere, making them part of a networking logic. This is particularly the case of the Italian actions (social cooperatives and time banks). Others have sought to put into practice new concepts of social management and have gradually had them adopted by the local institutions, particularly by the municipalities and the bodies helping the unemployed.

Many coexist with the institutional interventions, offering new answers to the institutions present in the area which find the phenomenon too difficult to understand or which lack the appropriate instruments to cope with complex challenges (example of CILDEA in France). Other are simply a response to new needs and to the recent appearance of exclusion (case of Angus Transport Forum in Scotland).

Most of the local actions are targeted at a specific group or designed to solve a specific problem. Because they make up for the shortcomings of the actions already in place, they are often pioneering. In this sense, they serve as a demonstration. However, their inclusion in a comprehensive territorial approach to fight exclusion depends to a great extent on whether wider partnerships can be formed in the area.


[24] Given the limited number of examples,
only basic, partial conclusions can be drawn. Each
LEADER group, and each national or regional network
may, on the basis of its own experience, confirms
these examples, disputes them, adds to them or refines
them. Therefore, the examples may only serve as a
starting point, or as a common reference for a wider
debate which may spread to the level of the European
network once detailed and definitive conclusions
have been reached.
It is also worth noting that the current ideas on
new approaches to fighting social exclusion in rural
areas are based on earlier debates, studies and
publications which reveal new courses of action and
present results that must be taken into account in the
exercise proposed here. A good example is the work
done in France by Mairie Conseil, rue de l’Université,
106, F-75007 Paris, Tel: +33 140 49 20 40,
Fax: +33 140 49 20 55.

European Flag