Joanne Coates: A Rural Lifeline

© Joanne Coates | A Rural Lifeline
© Joanne Coates | A Rural Lifeline

Joanne Coates is a photographic storyteller from a working-class background. Based between Yorkshire and Scotland, she depicts everyday stories with a documentary approach. Apart from this, Coates has also done work in the commercial sector with clients including the BBC, Vice, Financial Times, The Guardian, and more.

Coronavirus: A Rural Lifeline in North Yorkshire shows how rural communities, away from the hub of the big city, managed to cope with isolation when social distancing became the norm back in early 2020. Coates focussed on a small local bus service and the way it was providing a lifeline in those in most need. The bus would usually run regular services and also provide school transport, but as its timetable was cut down, it turned to help the local community.

© Joanne Coates | A Rural Lifeline
© Joanne Coates | A Rural Lifeline

These are people who are or feel like they are forgotten by the rest of the world — you can’t get deliveries there, which turned out to be incredibly problematic when the full lockdown was imposed. The bus service, now called The Little White Bus Company, became indispensable and real help to many people. It truly is doing whatever it can out of the goodness of the heart of the people who run it.

“We can all learn something from the village of Hawes, the community spirit that battled to look after its most vulnerable long before a pandemic. Snow, wind, floods, the little white bus will carry on making sure people get vital services they need in rural areas.”
© Joanne Coates | A Rural Lifeline
© Joanne Coates | A Rural Lifeline

It’s an incredibly uplifting body of work, especially in times like these when we are reminded of the value of acts of kindness, no matter how big or small. Kindness is one of the most important things we can gift to another human being. The images show the people who have set up The Little White Bus Company as well as those who use it.

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