The Plunkett Foundation, which aims to improve the livelihood of rural people worldwide through economic self-help, is ploughing £100,000 into the Rural Revival initiative. It hopes to raise £1million a year for the next five years to sustain growth in rural areas.
The foundation will evaluate applications for start-up funding for countryside projects to help boost the rural economy. Projects will be UK wide and include community transport schemes, community-owned village stores, rural development trusts and farmer marketing co-operatives.
"Around £5,000 could allow a rural self-help enterprise to get off the ground," said Richard Moreton, chief executive of the Plunkett Foundation. "The recent Countryside Alliance march showed the extent of concerns about life in rural Britain. However, rather than complaining to the Government about this, it is better to work positively to help people to help themselves."
Before requests for support from potential applicants will be considered, the foundation needs to raise a further £100,000 by the end of the year. The initiative aims to raise funds from three main areas: charitable trusts, companies and individual donors - all of which will have an interest in rural issues, with major donors able to pick geographical areas they wish to support.
A direct marketing appeal to individual donors and wealthy people living in rural areas is expected to kick off early next year. "Squires used to support the poorer people in the community," said Moreton. "Rural Revival is the modern-day equivalent."
A regular newsletter is also planned to launch next year to communicate the impact of donations made by supporters.
Rural Revival has been formed in response to the major support that movements such as the Countryside Alliance has achieved, when it raised more than £9 million last year to protect countryside pursuits including fox hunting.
Another contributing factor for the launch was the Royal Agricultural Benevolent Institute, which provides financial support to needy farmers, managing to raise around £7 million during the foot-and-mouth crisis.
For more information, you can visit the foundation's web site, www.ruralrevival.com, or call 01993 883636.