26 October 2001

Support for rural women

A NEW initiative to help rural women in Cumbria find work or set up their own businesses was launched this month.

Rural Women in Cyberspace is a National Lottery-funded project with a team of professional women volunteers who will act as mentors for other women thinking of setting up their own business. It will also offer training and guidance through a network of 15 centres across the county.

"Women in the countryside have traditionally been viewed as an economically disadvantaged group and in the past they have accepted this view," said the projects team leader Caroline Addison. "Now there is an even greater need for rural women to generate income and the survival of some family farms and other rural businesses may depend on the ability of women to contribute financially."

Mrs Addison, whose own livestock were culled during the foot-and-mouth crisis, said the project had grown out of the three year Voluntary Action Cumbrias Farm Womens Project.

"It became obvious there was a need for continuing support, not just for farmers wives, but for other rural women. Our survey showed that 66% of rural women in the county still have children at home so businesses which require full-time commitment might not suit.

"We also found women prefer getting their advice from other women in the comfort of their own homes if possible. Information technology seems to be the area where there is the most need for training and, if necessary, we will tailor-make courses to suit individuals."

Rural Women in Cyberspace is aimed at Cumbrian women of 16 and over. It will provide advice on training and funding, as well as having a chat room where members can discuss new ideas.

Inquiries:www.ruralwomen.org.uk, or contact Caroline by telephoning 01768-242130.