Let’s End Poverty – Hidden Hardship & rural experiences of economic inequalities

13 February 2024

‘The government has left rural areas, a lot of people have felt they have been left alone… the DWP only offer support to town areas…people have been made disadvantaged. So political decisions definitely play a big part.’ – Quote from volunteer interview in Hidden Hardship Report for Community and Policymakers, page 20, 2023. Dr. S Denning. Image – Hidden Hardship and Beth Waters.

On Tuesday 31 January I attended the launch of the Hidden Hardship exhibition at Coventry Cathedral on behalf of the Methodist Church. Poverty across the UK is both rising and deepening, and different communities and contexts face the impact of this distinctively. For rural communities, the solutions will be diverse. If we’re to tackle poverty in a long term, sustainable way, the experiences and voices of people in rural communities need to be round the table to construct helpful and lasting solutions. We all have a part to play, and listening to and amplifying the experiences of our neighbours is an important place to start.

The exhibition presents Dr. Stephanie Denning’s research findings around people’s experiences of hardship, their coping strategies and barriers to wellbeing in rural Britain in an accessible format alongside some beautiful artwork by Beth Waters. It highlights the hidden nature of rural hardship; lacks of government investment, employment and transport in most of our rural areas; the importance of informal support networks at local level and the role our church communities often play in this.


An online visual booklet of the exhibition can be found here: Hidden Hardship Short Storybook - Hidden Hardship (coventry.ac.uk)

 The research recommendations are all things we can and should be raising awareness about, as well as bringing to the attention of our local and national government leaders (full details in the Hidden Hardship Report):

  • Tailoring support and responses from national government and voluntary sector.
  • Supporting rural residents with access to transport for medical & benefit appointments, often inaccessible via public transport.
  • Raising awareness with the general population and giving a sensitive voice to those experiencing hardship to share experiences.
  • The ‘lacks of’ that cause & affect rural hardship (e.g. transport, infrastructure, affordable housing, amenities) need to be addressed in local & national government planning.

 Here are some practical ways you might want to engage with the issues of Hidden Hardship:



For details of rural mission support offered across Britain, please see Rural Hope (methodist.org.uk)

or contact Sarah Hulme, Methodist rural mission & ministry officer.


Images used with kind permission of Dr S Denning.