Evaluation of a self-help support project for rural lone parents

Karen Richardson

Substantial numbers of lone parents live in rural areas.

The project evaluated employed a Rural Co-ordinator to run drop-ins (with volunteer help) in small towns with rural catchment areas in North Yorkshire and Humberside where (at the 1991 Census) 30% and 12% respectively of lone parents lived in rural areas. The co-ordinator also made home visits and provided advice and advocacy work by telephone.

  • The project found that lone parents in rural areas face many of the problems common to lone parents generally, such as poverty, social isolation and lack of respite from childcare, plus additional problems of geographical isolation, more hostile social attitudes, and especially lack of access to transport.
  • Drop-in centres worked best when:
    - run relatively frequently at a regular time, in comfortable premises
    connected to the wider community, with a worker with welfare benefits
    knowledge and group facilitation skills attending regularly;
    - a crèche worker was present;
    - there was support from local agencies.