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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?


3.5 Consequences of targeted actions
and prospects


In addition to their primary objective of improving the living conditions of the target group, these actions help increase the area’s social cohesion, and this on several levels.

  • They recreate a social link between the victims of exclusion and the area’s actors.

      The choice of community development in the Valle di Non made it possible to establish local links between the disabled and certain external families. Until then, the disabled only had links with their own families, and the tremendous pressure under which these families lived created tensions that further marginalised the disabled people. Sharing the burden with other substitute families helped to improve the relationship within the real families.

      In the Loire, the system of guidance and counselling created a social link between the farmers on income support and the economically successful farmers, something unimaginable in the beginning.

  • More generally speaking, the actions create social relationships of local solidarity within the area.

      The time bank, like any form of local resource management (eg. the local bartering system in Canada), generates links of solidarity between people living in the same place who often do not know one another.

      In the Finnish case, it is between the elderly and the children that links have been created.

  • The actions make individuals as well as the local businesses and institutions want to help the people in need living in the area return to the mainstream of society.

      In Central West Brittany, the action to retrain unemployed people prompted the local craftsmen to become interested in the vocational training of the unemployed and to move beyond a strictly economic way of thinking.

      In County Angus in Scotland, the creation of alternative forms of transport broke down barriers, introducing practices until then unthinkable. The postman, the milkman, and the door-to-door salesman began to offer rides in their vehicles, the school buses made room for adults, and so on.

  • The actions help set up partnership structures likely to serve in the fight against social exclusion in the long term.

      The initiative in Angus helped create an association consisting of representatives of voluntary organisations, municipal councils, bus and taxi companies as well as groups concerned with the problem of mass transport.

  • More generally speaking, the actions introduce new approaches and practices that are a break with traditional practices.

      In Central West Brittany, the action to help the unemployed return to work broke with the “bureaucratic logic of compartimentalisation” in favour of a “project logic”, particularly in the government agencies responsible for the fight against social exclusion.

  • The combination of these different impacts has a multiplier effect that makes it possible to transfer the action and apply it to other groups, activities or sectors.

      The counselling and guidance experiment in the Loire with farmers in need was extended to other social groups on income support in other sectors.

      The Brittany experience of the training enterprise to renovate abandoned houses and the building heritage was extended to “green work sites” involving environmental clean-up and restoration. An identical project is also going to be launched in southern France (Hérault, Languedoc-Roussillon) by the initiator of the Brittany action.

      In Ireland, the RRI action has been taken on board by similar associations, set up locally in rural areas, which enables more concerted actions with the local people.

      The action in Utajärvi Oulu in Finland has played a pilot role, and its transfer to other regions in the country is now being contemplated.

  • Lastly, these actions can have significant economic benefits for an area.

      In Central West Brittany, the retraining enterprise has not only helped long-term unemployed people return to work but has also enabled the restoration of houses and the local heritage. In the first three years of the project, 164 people in difficulty were signed on, 30 small heritage restoration jobs were completed and 30 rental dwellings were created.

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