Yorkshire Dales project officer awarded fellowship to US

Rima Berry.

A Wensleydale project officer has been awarded a fellowship to travel to the US for research.

Rima Berry has been awarded a Churchill Fellowship to research how community land trusts practically operate over large geographic areas.

Rima, who is a rural development project officer with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, is one of 150 people who were selected this year from almost 1,800 applicants to win a Churchill Fellowship. The average length of a Fellowship is six weeks.

“I’m delighted to have received the Fellowship,” she said.

“I am really looking forward to travelling to the States and looking into how they manage land trusts.

“With community land trusts, one size does not fit all and organisations operate in lots of different ways. This will be the most challenging task and remarkable opportunity that I never thought I’d have.

“I will be researching how we can get better at supporting rural community land ownership in the UK for the social, economic and environmental good of all members of rural society and learning from the pioneers who started it, tested it and are living it.

 “This is important because protected landscapes and National Parks not only conserve habitats but they conserve cultural values too; the communities and people who maintain the farmed landscape.”

Rima’s research will centre on innovation in public sector partnerships, awareness of the social benefits of Community Land Trusts, and how they boost individual and community equity.

She will also look at how CLT’s create foundations for more equitable development and better opportunities for low income home ownership in rural areas.

“My fellowship experience will be professionally and personally challenging and potentially career changing,” she added. “I am hoping to bring back lots of transferable good practice, case studies and new ideas.

“When I return to the UK, I intend that the research will better inform the development of Community Land Trusts in rural areas and positively impact the sustainability of rural communities – by testing the feasibility of a pilot rural landscape scale Community Land Trusts, working in collaboration with rural communities, charities, local planning authorities and housing associations and developers.”

The next chance to apply for a Churchill Fellowship opens on May 16 2019 and includes new categories on ‘Palliative and end of life care’ and ‘Physical activity: making moves for healthier lives’.

Application details are online at wcmt.org.uk.