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Young people urged to take part in survey on rural issues in Suffolk

A new survey has been launched urging young people across Suffolk to share their views on rural issues. The survey is part of a project called Young Flourish, which stems from FLOURISH, the Rural Summit for Suffolk, held on 11 October at Trinity Park. The Summit was put together by four local charities: The Seckford Foundation, Suffolk Community Foundation, Suffolk Agricultural Association and Community Action Suffolk, with the aim of debating the issues for rural residents in Suffolk such as income deprivation, a low wage economy and a lack of access to services such as community transport, decent mobile phone signals and more.

Key to addressing these issues are the views of young people in the county, and so Young Flourish is a consultation exercise for people aged 14–25.

Young Flourish is led by the Suffolk County Council Skills Team, who volunteered to source young people’s opinions on rural issues such as education, employment opportunities and access to services. As well as the survey, young people have been involved in a number of engagement sessions across the county, hosted by schools and youth organisations such as Fresh Aspirations Forum in Framlingham.

Jenny Stockman of Fresh Aspirations Forum said: “Early indicators from discussions with Suffolk’s young rural population suggest that parental and community support may be key factors in access to activities and opportunities. It is information like this that highlights a real need to speak with young people, and clarify what actions we need to take in addressing the issues that are most important. I’m hoping that as many young people as possible will voice their opinions in the short online survey.”

The Rural Summit was organised as part of the Rural Needs project, aiming to shine a light on the county’s rural issues. Over 150 delegates attended from various organisations across the county, including Suffolk Police, Age UK Suffolk and West Suffolk College, each voicing their concerns and pledging to tackle rural poverty in the county.

Councillor Gordon Jones, Suffolk County Council’s Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Education and Skills, said: “Whilst the Rural Summit saw discussion from a range of high profile leaders, it is equally important to seek the opinion of Suffolk’s younger generation. Once we have determined the county’s views on key rural issues, we can then take action and work towards making a real difference.”

Graham Watson, Director of the Seckford Foundation who are hosting some of the engagement sessions said: “Young Flourish is a great opportunity to uncover the real issues faced by the county’s young rural population. Thanks to the Suffolk County Council Skills Team for leading this project and to organisations such as Fresh Aspirations Forum for helping to engage more young people.”

If you’re aged 14 to 25 and live in rural Suffolk, please take a look at the Young Flourish short online survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/PX9XQ9Z. The survey will be open until 23rd December. For more information about the Flourish Summit and the Rural Needs project visit www.flourishingsuffolk.org.uk.