Optimism amongst rural young people has halved during Covid-19, according to the latest research.

The Rural Youth Project’s new Qualitative Report, which includes the results of its 2020 Covid-19 survey, reports that the situation has amplified issues faced by rural young people, such as isolation and loneliness.

RYP communications officer Alana Black said: “The lives of young people in rural areas are rich and vibrant. Our young people are resourceful, tenacious, and willing to tackle the challenges they face head on – but they need the right support.

“For two years we’ve been listening to the voices of the under-30s living rurally and their issues of transport, housing, employment, building support, rural learning skills and education, connectivity, community and society, representation, intergenerational relationships, and rural resilience are all examined in the Qualitative Report, alongside the results of the Covid-19 survey.

“Although the optimism of young people has nearly halved since lockdown, through our research we’ve found a strong underlying desire to stay in rural places. It has cemented our view that we need to listen more, to support more and to encourage young people to reimagine rural places," said Ms Black.

“We wanted this report to be a catalyst for knowledge exchange between young people, older leaders and communities who want re-think what ‘rural’ looks like. Throughout the process we’ve taken the anonymous sentiments from respondents and provided context to their challenges through in-depth case studies with young people, but also highlighted the strategies and solutions they have employed to build their lives and futures in rural areas.”

Featuring in the Qualitative Report was Eilidh Carr, from Coralbox Gift Shop located on the Outer Hebrides, who highlighted that when establishing her business, funding was not available to her. Fortunately, she was able to find the money to invest but recognised that others may not have this opportunity noting: “I would love to see more funding opportunities and enterprise support to encourage young people to get their businesses off the ground.”