Survey to probe rural Scotland on Covid measures

The survey has been tailored by people from rural communities, including farmers and landowners
The survey has been tailored by people from rural communities, including farmers and landowners

Researchers are seeking to understand how Covid-19 measures have affected the mental health and wellbeing of Scotland's rural communities.

The University of Edinburgh study is one of the first to provide insight into rural areas, according to organisers.

Many studies on the pandemic have focused on city dwellers and urban industries, but the survey's aim is to give farmers, landowners and rural firms a voice.

The questions have been tailored and designed by people from rural communities, and includes questions on quality of rural broadband, employment, community and mental health.

The survey – named RuralCovidLife – is open to anyone over the age of 16 living in a rural area of Scotland.

Professor David Porteous, principal investigator said: “Rural communities will have been impacted by Covid-19 in a very different way to urban ones.

"Listening the concerns of these communities will help us understand how best to prepare for the future, making sure rural voices are represented.”

Concerns about access to medical appointments, using public transport and thoughts on video and telephone appointments will also be gauged.

Rhoda Meek, a digital consultant and crofter based on Tiree, established a social enterprise called during lockdown to allow businesses in the Scottish islands that were dependent on tourism to sell their wares online.

Rhoda, who is part of the advisory group for RuralCovidLife, said it was 'important' to hear the rural perspective about the last few months.

"Covid-19 has been challenging no matter where you live, and rural areas which have a greater than average reliance on tourism have had a very unique set of circumstances.

"It's been incredible to watch communities pulling together, and see innovation in action, with people willing to adapt their business models and try new things.

"Hopefully the results of the survey will be a great basis from which to learn and to build for the future."

RuralCovidLife is part of Generation Scotland, a long-term Scotland-wide research project looking at the health and wellbeing of volunteers and their families.