Designed by Ian Parris © Nether Heyford Neighbourhood Plan

Nether Heyford

Inclusion in Nether Heyford

Over the past few weeks, the notion of loneliness and social isolation has been not only discussed on national platforms – such as the Government’s push for higher quality social housing to help address the associated stigma – but also locally as an element of our own Neighbourhood Plan policies.

Social Inclusion is where everyone feels welcome. Social exclusion is when individuals or families are prevented from participating fully in the economic, social, and political life of the village. Add to this risk factors such as social background, the inability to drive and the discouragement to join groups or associations, and rural social cohesion is particularly under threat. Promoting social inclusion embraces ‘intangibles’ like self-worth. People can feel lonely and socially excluded in a relatively well-off village like Nether Heyford, when they are without support, economically disadvantaged, where their self confidence is dented, and where they feel they are made to feel out of place with other people. Bullying is a particular abhorrent face of social exclusion which has causal links to depression and risk of suicide.

Why is this important to the Neighbourhood Plan? Wellbeing is the central foundation of the Plan. The wellbeing of villagers and of the village itself. Social inclusion is one of the keystones to support wellbeing. The nature of housing, its position in the village, the integration of pathways and roads, the refusal to isolate communities within the village, to push back cheap, minimal builds with little space to flourish, ensuring access to green spaces, are all important factors that are part of our discussions and policies. We look to promote healthy mixed neighbourhoods, where high quality build and a rich village life are much better aspirations for all.

Anyone who behaves differently from what’s seen as normal may become subject to coarse or more subtle forms of social exclusion. People may feel on the fringe although they are physically within the village. Consider the isolation from society that some veterans feel after a prolonged service in the armed forces, dealing with separation, loss and, for many, acquired mental health problems. They need thoughtful and helpful strategies to readjust to life to negate the social exclusion that many of them experience.

Our Plan believes that access to affordable, decent housing is a basic precondition for a dignified human life. Along with the majority of villagers, we will always defend a socially inclusive Plan that offers all households, particularly those with low or very low incomes not only a significant improvement in their quality of life but also a supportive environment, favourable to their growth as individuals, as families and as members of this village.

Tom Dodd (Vice Chair NHNPG)