Friday, 18 May 2012


You Can't Eat the View

It's not often that work and life collide in the way that I experienced this week.

Cornwall is very beautiful; we've been exploring it and gradually getting to know it over the last six years. But it's also one of the poorest parts of the country - the fact that it still receives EU funding is significant.

Poverty looks very different in a rural environment, especially one reliant on tourism. It's hard to spot the low wages, job insecurity, and isolation that locals face. Scratch below the surface of the idyllic fishing village, rugged mining community or chic surfing town and you'll find depression, drug and alcohol problems, unemployment, debt and despair. Proper, real poverty - as in, going without food, heating and clothing. The dispersed nature of many communities, lack of affordable public transport, high fuel costs and often short-term availability of well-paid work combine to strangle many people's chances of a better future and yet, all of this happens in the context of growing high-end domestic tourism.

I felt uncomfortable during my two-day visit; hearing some of the humbling stories of the way local people are helping others in need was deeply inspiring, but left me with a tinge of guilt that our enjoyment of this wild, resilient place is facilitated by our comfortable income. But I was also excited by the energy of the people I met whose passion for their communities has already brought change. One thing's for sure: Cornwall is forever changed for me, but is now more real, more human.

Posted by pab at 20:15 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!