FEATURE15 November 2021

Listening to rural voices: Countryside research

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Features Impact UK

Fieldwork under lockdown had several benefits for research in rural areas, particularly in Wales. By Paul Flatters and Sarah Morris.

redheaded girl walking down a rural path with rolling hills in the background

“I don’t think I’ve ever had the opportunity to voice my opinion on rural Wales before.” This comment was made in an online focus group conducted as part of a study on rural youth in Wales, led by independent consultant Ffion Storer Jones. Tired of the lack of research undertaken on rural young people in the nation, the study focused on young people, aged 16 to 28, living, working or studying in rural Wales, and the report highlights their views, needs and aspirations.

An unexpected benefit of the pandemic was the variety of participants it allowed to recruit. For example, one group of six for the research on rural youth in Wales included a student from Ynys Môn (Anglesey), a farmer from Sir Benfro (Pembrokeshire), and a single mum from Cwmbrân. Would these articulate young participants ever have ended up in the same focus group without Zoom?

Early in the first lockdown, we had farmers drive to a lay-by down the road to join a ...