New study to assess Covid lockdown impact on Scots in remote communities
How Scots living in some of the most remote parts of the country have fared during the coronavirus crisis is to be assessed in a new study by scientists from the University of Edinburgh.
The new poll will investigate the psychological, social and financial effects of the pandemic on those living in sparsely populated communities.
Though rural regions have escaped the high infection rates and numbers of deaths seen in the bigger towns and cities during the first wave of Covid-19, citizens have still faced travel restrictions, reduced access to healthcare and economic uncertainty.
One in six people in Scotland lives and works in the countryside or away from the main conurbations.
The study is one of the first to provide insight into the pandemic’s effect on life in rural areas, organisers from the University of Edinburgh have said.
Many previous studies on the outbreak’s impact have focused on city-dwellers and urban industries.
This latest project aims to give outlying populations the chance to air their views on the best way to deal with policies that directly affect them.
As part of the survey, researchers will ask a variety of questions on themes such as quality of broadband connections, tourism and health and well-being.
Concerns over access to medical appointments and travelling on public transport, as well as opinions on video and telephone consultations replacing face-to-face meetings, will also be gauged.
The study, named RuralCovidLife, will be open to anyone over the age of 16 living in a rural area of Scotland.
Rhoda Meek is a digital consultant and crofter based on the island of Tiree.
She is also part of the advisory group for RuralCovidLife.
During lockdown she set up a social enterprise called isle20.com to allow businesses in the Scottish islands that were dependent on tourism to sell their wares online.
She said: “It’s so important to hear the rural perspective about the last few months, and it’s great the survey is here to do that.
“Covid-19 has been challenging, no matter where you live, and rural areas which have a greater than average reliance on tourism have had a very unique set of circumstances.
“It has been incredible to watch communities pulling together and see innovation in action, with people willing to adapt their business models and try new things.
“Hopefully the results of the survey will be a great basis from which to learn and to build for the future.”
RuralCovidLife is part of Generation Scotland, a long-term nationwide research project looking at the health and well-being of volunteers and their families.
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Generation Scotland participants have answered questions on their medical histories and lifestyles, and granted researchers access to their health records.
Professor David Porteous, principal investigator for Generation Scotland at the University of Edinburgh, said: “Rural communities will have been impacted by Covid-19 in a very different way to urban ones.
“Listening to the concerns of these communities will help us understand how best to prepare for the future, making sure rural voices are represented.”
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