Trevor Bailey's Story

Author: Trevor Bailey
Trevor Bailey's Story

At the time of his Fellowship, Trevor worked for the then Council for Small Industries In Rural Areas (CoSIRA), fostering self-employment with the aim of helping villages to remain working communities and not just enclaves of expensive housing. The Fellowship enabled him to visit three countries where rural communities were taking this task, and others, into their own hands.

The Fellowship

Trevor travelled to Ireland, Spain and Switzerland in 1980. He saw many of the multi-purpose community co-operatives of the west of Ireland, the massive Mondragon co-operative 'empire' and bank in Spain, and conventional worker co-operatives in Switzerland.  In all of these cases, in different forms, local people were striving to find ways of helping themselves and taking control.  From the Irish cases, in particular, it was clear that employment, training, local culture, arts, social welfare and environment could be combined.  

The Results

On his return, Trevor wrote an article in The Guardian about the Irish community co-operatives, which led to substantial writing on rural issues for national newspapers and magazines. He went on to create a series of experimental projects in Wiltshire which aimed to provide local employment and training in villages where there were no such opportunities.  These projects became the subject of a series of BBC television programmes, including a major broadcast on BBC2.

With a team of others, Trevor then set up the Wiltshire Small Industries Trust which, for many years, converted redundant buildings into workshops in villages where there were few facilities for employment.

As a result of working with the BBC, Trevor presented a series of television programmes in his native East Anglia, using archive film to put the current state of rural communities into its historical perspective. He then moved on to something of a dual career, working with one of the Rural Community Councils to create a whole new series of rural employment projects while, at the same time, setting up a specialised rural media charity.

Amongst others, projects were devised to support young people attempting self-employment and to give work experience to women wishing to return to work. Like the organisations that Trevor visited during his Fellowship, these were not advisory services offered from the side-lines, but practical intervention in collaboration with the people they sought to benefit. 

During the same period, Trevor co-authored a book about rural employment and a report for the Gulkbenkian Foundation on rural arts policy, which took him to local initiatives all around the UK.

The media charity, now known as Windrose Rural Media Trust, has pursued a mass of activities, from television productions on rural subjects to youth radio projects. One project, Pasture Promise, run jointly with Graham Harvey the Agricultural Adviser to The Archers, made high quality programmes for its own online television station about the modern revival of pasture farming, with its many environmental, economic and health benefits.

Windrose has long taken outreach shows, using archive film of local life, music and storytelling to theatres, arts centres and, crucially, to a great many village halls.  These have reached tens of thousands of people.