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Research is key to attracting young people to the Lakes and Dales

Lindsey Hebden

[A] major research study will be at the centre of a new initiative designed to encourage younger people to live and work in the Lake District and Yorkshire Dales.

The area has a staggering 44% fewer 16 to 34 year olds than the national average, so the new project, Great Place: Lakes and Dales (GPLD), is aiming to persuade more young people to stay or move to the area.

The project has been given £1.34 million of funding by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Arts Council England. It is being led by Craven District Council in partnership with South Lakeland District Council and the Yorkshire Dales and Lake District national park authorities.

Lindsey Hebden, GPLD programme manager said: “We live in a beautiful part of the country which has an incredible amount to offer, but the shortage of younger people in the area will be harmful for the local economy unless we can persuade more to stay or move here.

“To do that, we need to listen. So the research project, seeking the views of as many people as possible and particularly those aged between 16 and 44, will be a central part of our whole programme.

“Retaining and attracting younger people and new businesses to the area is vital to influence and support our future economy.”

The research is focusing on the cultural and heritage offering of the area, and how it can support economic and business development.

Said Lindsey: “Developing and supporting the creative economy will follow on from defining our cultural distinctiveness by putting arts and heritage at the heart of local policies.

“Unless we can make the Lakes and Dales realistically appealing for younger people the future vibrancy is at stake. Our research will help identify what needs to be done and what younger people actually want to see.”

The project will be focused on the rural corridor linking Skipton in the south and Grasmere in the north, including the market towns and hinterlands in between.

SLDC’s portfolio holder for Culture and Leisure, Councillor Chris Hogg said: “It was a long journey and something I was determined we should be leading the way on.

“Our commitment links this new programme with our Cultural Destination success, our existing partnerships with our national portfolio organisations, and our support for the successful World Heritage Site bid and the creative industries. It is at the centre of what makes South Lakeland a great place to live, work and explore.

“We want our areas to be places where a sustainable, resilient, creative community and economy exists, celebrating the distinctiveness of place, our landscapes, the skill and experience of creative people and a good quality of life. This in turn will retain and attract younger people to our districts to influence, support and create our future economy.’’

A series of events, workshops, high profile competitions and support for existing projects are being planned to celebrate the area’s wealth of local culture, arts and heritage.

Work will target key festivals including Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Lakes Alive, Kendal Mountain Festival, Grassington Festival, Settle Stories and Skipton International Puppet Festival which will help further develop the area’s cultural offer.

It also aims to strengthen existing flagship heritage initiatives including Skipton Town Hall, Craven Museum and Gallery, Lakes Culture, Windermere Jetty, Re-imagining Wordsworth and Lakes Alive.

For more information on GPLD, or to have your say and get involved with the research, please email [email protected] or contact the team through social media.

GPLD has appointed The Audience Agency to carry out the nationwide research. The Audience Agency has also teamed up with MB Associates in Kendal, industry leaders in social impact and wellbeing evaluation, and The Beatfreeks Collective project DOINK, a creative engagement agency and experts in young people led research. Initial findings from the research are expected to be revealed in October at a ‘one year on’ conference.”

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