Sussex Village Agents Programme

What are Village Agents?

The Village Agents are a team of experienced rural community development workers. Our key aim is to work with local people to develop innovative and effective ways to bring services closer to rural communities and improve the overall quality of rural life. We help rural communities foster local provision and ideas, identify strengths as well as issues, and seek to develop opportunities and solutions.

How do Village Agents operate?

Each Village Agent takes overall responsibility for a specific geographical area. They build knowledge, connections, and relationships with each community, creating opportunities for individuals, groups, and organisations to initiate, develop and share their visions and achievements. They will also, when appropriate, collaborate as a team, so that individual skills and knowledge can be shared across the whole area. 

The support offered by Village Agents can include the following:

  • Assist with community consultation exercise to identifying local need.
  • Facilitate the development of ideas and opportunities that meet identified needs. 
  • Support and mentor community leaders and volunteers.
  • Provide resources and information that can help with local delivery.
  • Foster links between local organisations, projects, and groups.
  • Organise and signpost volunteers to training and networking opportunities.
  • Work with local people to organise and run community events and celebrations.
  • Help with recruiting and retaining existing volunteers.

Current Projects and Programmes

Making it Happen – funded by East Sussex County Council

Village Agents are presently working on the Making it Happen programme alongside other partner organisations in East Sussex. This programme is about discovering, celebrating, and building on the positive things in our local neighbourhoods. 

We are here to support communities to come together, make the most of the opportunities and create positive change. It is a chance for ideas to be developed into practical solutions by you and your community for your community!

The areas covered by the AirS Village Agents for Making it Happen are, Crowborough, Hailsham, Polegate and Uckfield. If you live in any of these areas and you want to hear more about how you can help ‘make it happen’ in  them, we would love to hear from you. Get in touch at:  airsvillageagents@ruralsussex.org.uk   

Making it Happen Case Studies

1) Selby Meadow

Selby Meadow – A Green Sanctuary for People and Wildlife

2) Crowborough Youth Club

MIH -2022 Crowborough youth club case study

Our Team Members

Chiara Vagnarelli. UCKFIELD. 07773 320315 chiara.vagnarelli@ruralsussex.org.uk
Usual Working Days: Wednesdays & Thursdays

Laura Heales. HAILSHAM AND POLEGATE.  07940 275611 laura.heales@ruralsussex.org.uk
Usual Working Days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursdays 

Suzi Lock. CROWBOROUGH. 07899 894975 suzi.lock@ruralsussex.org.uk
Usual Working Days: Tuesdays, Wednesdays & Thursday Mornings

The team manager is: Steve Lewis, Community Based Service Lead
Tel 01273 473 422 or 07540 795277
steve.lewis@ruralsussex.org.uk

AirS Village Agents lead a local activity in Polegate

Photos: Steve Lewis

Lost Woods Environment Programme – funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund

LOST WOODS HIBERNATION

The Lost Woods project is reaching the end of Stage One, our research & development phase.

From June, Lost Woods will take a rest for a few months while the funders consider the new proposal.

We hope to be back in Autumn with a new five-year phase of funding

Working alongside our partners, The Woodland Trust, Sussex Wildlife Trust and Small Woods Association, AirS Village Agents are forging relationships with local communities and helping more people to access and engage with local woodlands. This, we hope, will inspire a revitalised connection with our woodlands for generations to come.

If you would like to find out more please contact us on lostwoodsteam@ruralsussex.org.uk .

Lost Woods Case Studies

1) Plumpton College

AirS Plumpton Case Study

AirS Feedback Sheet_Plumpton Students

2) Learning from a Loved Woods

AirS Learning from a Loved Woods Case Study

3) Woodland Wind-down

AirS Woodland Wind-down Case Study

4) Underserved groups – Lost Woods training, networking and activity survey.

AirS Training, Network and Activity survey

5) Conservation groups – Lost Woods training, networking and activity survey.

AirS Training, Network and Activity survey Conservation groups

6) Evaluation – August Ambles

AirS evaluation of August Ambles

7) Thank you to Lottery Players

AirS Thank you to Lottery players engagement event report

8) Unstructured Conversations

AirS Unstructured Conversations Consultation Report

Previous Programmes

Village Action Programme – funded by Big Lottery Reaching Communities.

Good Neighbour Scheme, funded by East Sussex County Council

Rural Health and Wellbeing Programme – funded by East Sussex County Council Public Health

Reaching Communities – See the Reaching Communities project at work. Read this Case Study about the work carried out with the community in Ticehurst

Wivelsfield Lunch Bunch – Wivelsfield Lunch Bunch and the Wonderful Wildlife Community Event 14th September

For your information:

Documents and Presentations.

Good Neighbour Schemes. GNS Presentation V April 2019.pdf

Wivelsfield Wonderful Wildlife Event 2019.pdf

Selby Meadow – A Sanctuary for People and Wildlife  Selby Meadow – A Green Sanctuary for People and Wildlife (1).pdf

“Is Everybody Here?” event presentation – https://ruralsussex.sharepoint.com/:b:/g/EQkQazTJ4RVDnralVCvWNA8BWzDnDEZ6RJsvRB42ZC7W2w?e=h0a48z

In June 2020, the MiH team ran an online event to support community groups as they emerged from lockdowns. Entitled “Is Everybody Here?” it was designed to help communities grow awareness of the impact of loss and grief both collectively and individually. It also sought to help them think about how their community group might have changed and who might not be there and why. Finally, it gave an opportunity for them to think about the positives that have come out of the pandemic and if this might change the way they do things in the future. You can access the presentation from this event below and use it as a tool for your own thinking and planning as you move forward after Covid.

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.

“Supporting rural communities in Sussex to be vibrant and diverse places in which to live and work.”