Sussex Village Agents Programme
The Village Agents are a team of experienced rural community development specialists who work with local people to develop innovative and effective ways to bring services closer to rural people. The overall aim is to improve access to services for rural communities, to foster local provision and local solutions to identified issues and to improve the overall quality of life for all.
How do Village Agents operate?
Each Village Agent covers a specific geographical areas, often several adjoining parishes. Over time they get to know each community, building up their knowledge and understanding of what happens there and what gaps and local improvements in services have been identified. They will then work with community leaders, organisations and residents to find solutions to issues, improve local services and encourage new volunteers to get involved in local service delivery.
The support offered by Village Agents varies considerably. It may include any or all of the following:-
- Helping with community consultation exercises and identifying needs and support for ideas
- Advice and support in developing ideas and opportunities that meet the needs of local people
- Direct support and mentoring for community leaders and volunteers, including establishing and operating new groups
- Providing case studies, resources and information that can help in local delivery
- Fostering links between communities and organisations
- Organising training and networking meetings on behalf of volunteers
- Help with recruiting and retaining volunteers
Village Action Programme, funded by Big Lottery Reaching Communities. Delivered by Village Action
Rural Health and Wellbeing Programme, funded by East Sussex County Council Public Health
Good Neighbour Scheme, funded by East Sussex County Council
In addition to their work with individual communities, the Village Agents team organise a number of peer network meetings for community volunteers. These provide opportunities that can spread good ideas and know-how, develop new skills, identify training needs and much more.
These networks currently include Good Neighbour and Befriending Schemes, Lunch Clubs, Parent and Toddler groups, outdoor activities and community transport groups.
For more information on the meetings and events please contact the team (see details below) or monitor our Events page.
Our Team Members
The Village Agents team currently operates across East Sussex. The areas and contact details are listed under each team members.
Chiara Vagnerelli 07773 320315
Chailey, East Chiltington, Ditchling, Falmer, Hamsey, Iford, Kingston, Newick, Piddinghoe, Plumpton, Rodmell, Southease, Streat, Westmeston, Wivelsfield, St John Without and St Ann Without.
Gill Blackwood 07968 715105
Eastern Lewes District and southern Wealden parishes: Alciston, Alfriston, Arlington, Barcombe, Beddingham, Berwick, Chalvington with Ripe, Cuckmere Valley, East Dean and Friston, Firle, Glynde, Laughton, Long Man, Ringmer, Selmeston, South Heighton and Tarring Neville.
Karen Laver 07854 249014
Forest Row, Hartfield, Danehill, Withyham, Frant, Rotherfield, Wadhurst, Ticehurst and
Laura Heales 07940 275611
Eastern Wealden District and South Rother District: Hailsham, Heathfield, Hellingly, Herstmonceux, Horam, Hooe, Mayfield, Ninfield, Polegate, Pevensey & Westham, Warbleton, Willingdon & Jevington and Wartling.
Suzi Lock 07899 894975
South Wealden parishes: Buxted, Chiddingly, East Hoathly, Fletching, Framfield, Hadlow Down, Isfield, Little Horsted and Uckfield.
The team manager is: Kevin Bottrell, Community Based Service Lead Tel 01273 407306 or 07825 506667
The Sussex Village Agents programme has worked with the following organisations:-
- East Sussex County Council to deliver programmes that address health and wellbeing issues.
- East Sussex Healthwatch – ensuring that people living in rural areas are aware of Healthwatch and what it can offer, and encouraging people to provide feedback on their local health services.
- East Sussex Fire and Rescue (ESF&R) Services – working in partnership to support and promote the Safe and Well visits as part of a rolling programme of visits by the ESF&R service across rural areas over the last 2 years.
- UK Power Networks – promoting the register of vulnerable people in rural areas of East and West Sussex.
- East Sussex Winter Warmth Campaign – working with others to ensure that information and benefits of the service reach rural areas and individuals living in fuel poverty.
- Wealden District Council and The Wealden Partnership to raise awareness and seek solutions and spread ideas about reducing rural isolation and loneliness. In particular promoting and supporting the development of good neighbour schemes in the District.
- Know Dementia and Dementia Friends – helping to raise awareness about dementia in rural communities.
- The Village Agents have also worked in partnership with many other organisations to improve awareness, information and service delivery on a range of issues including: Wealden Citizens Advice Bureau, Rother Voluntary Action, Carer for the Carers, 3VA, MSK NHS Partnership, Age UK GP Surgery Community Navigators.