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Fighting social exclusion in rural areas

[ Summary ]


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


3.2 Making up for the insufficient
aid of public services


The first characteristic of targeted local actions is that they aim to complement public aid by intervening in fields where the public aid is insufficient. This particularly concerns:

a) insufficient social coverage due to legal provisions

The action in Central West Brittany is motivated by the very precarious situation of the long-term unemployed who lose their right to unemployment benefits after one year. However, a large number of people in the region are chronically unemployed. Those particularly affected are unskilled young people who have housing and transport problems, but there are also sometimes older people who often suffer from illiteracy or alcoholism.

b) the absence of certain specific services

In Ireland, like in a lot of other countries, there was no service until recently to help needy people living in the city who wanted to move to the country. The RRI association is meeting this demand.

c) The existence of problems that have not been identified by the public authorities or that cannot be standardised

In Emilia-Romagna (Italy), there are sector-based social policies which generally work very well when the problems are recurrent and the solution is therefore easy to standardise (eg. create a public transport route to open up an isolated area) or when serious cases are easy to identify (eg. provide home care service for a seriously ill elderly person). But these policies are not enough to break the isolation of people faced with less cyclical or less acute problems which may nonetheless be a heavy burden in the person’s life. The time bank of Sant’Arcangelo di Romagna is an original response to this situation because it creates a supply of services based on the skills and availability of the people concerned.

d) cost constraints

The State’s inability to deal with non-identifiable or non- standardisable problems is related to the problem of the cost of public services:

  • in County Angus, the too great scattering of people needing a public or private form of mass transport poses cost constraints that prevent any standardised solution;

  • the idea of combining care for the elderly and for children, as is the case in Utajärvi Oulu (Finland) was first a way of solving the problem of the cost of these two services.

e) a widespread problem: insufficient social links

Assistance in the form of services or financial aid does not in itself solve the main problem of social exclusion, meaning the lack of social links. In this field, the State administrative services are usually powerless, and the goodwill of the officials is not enough. And the often remarkable work done by social workers in lending moral and human support falls far short of satisfying the real needs.

The targeted local actions in rural areas are aimed above all at solving this problem, considered of the utmost importance, and include actions like the creation of links between unemployed people and professionals in Brittany, between farmers in difficulty and guidance farmers in the Loire, between the disabled and able- bodied families in the Valle di Non, between children and elderly people in Utajärvi Oulu in Finland, and between people exchanging services through the time bank in Emilia-Romagna.

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