Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Centre

Project Items

Future of Rural Space (Community X-Change)


Community x-change was an attempt by a group of people living in rural Cumbria and County Durham to influence rural policy. It started in late 2006, when thirty rural residents came together to discuss the reality of life in rural areas.

Over the next few months the group, aged between 13 and 83, shared their experiences of rural life with each other and with information providers (including an MEP, a youth transport campaigner, council officers and many others).

In the first phase of the project the group took a set of recommendations to a European Citizens Panel in Brussels to deliberate with some 70 other Europeans and produce Europe-wide recommendations. These were then presented to European politicians.

In recognition of the fact that young people are under represented in decision making bodies generally and especially in rural areas, half of the original group was aged between 13 and 17.


The initiative saw more young people join. To combat what they believe to have been an inability to act on the part of European policy-makers, the group& decided to take action, firstly through returning to Brussels to get their message across using street theatre and through formal meetings with MEPs and others and secondly, through an MP-hosted event at the House of Commons.

The group also established a social networking site to allow communication with other young people and undertook a series of deliberation days throughout the region.