Working together to organise a community event, being part of a management committee of a village hall or volunteering as part of a team to provide wellbeing services are some of the volunteer activities supported by ACRE Network members. An example of this is the successful Village SOS campaign which was funded by the Big Lottery Fund, which enabled ACRE Network members and other partners to inspire and encourage the development of 450 enterprising volunteer led projects with support from volunteer mentors.
As well as supporting services and activity in their respective 38 Counties they have a strong ethos of working with each other to provide links across geographical areas and between grassroots activity and national advocacy. The value of ACRE Network Members direct contact with rural communities is demonstrated by the range of projects supported, we have included five case studies of some of these projects in this blog.
- Community events need a space and that space is most likely to be a community centre or village hall. Rural Action Derbyshire supported Pilsley Parish Council as they went through the process of transferring the hall from statutory to local volunteer management. Two settlements in Durham had community centres that were under the threat of closure. ACRE Network member Durham Community Action carried out a review and worked with the volunteers to build capacity and put policies and procedures in place.
- In 2016 Bedfordshire RCC became the lead partner and host organisation for the Abbey Line Community Rail Partnership. The Partnership promotes and aims to improve services on the 6.5 mile line.
- Stimulating local activity, tackling fuel poverty and helping people to stay in their own homes are all vitally important to maintain vibrant rural communities. Examples of what can be achieved to develop local solutions are numerous including the unique ACRE Network Village Agent and Good Neighbour Schemes. The Family Home & Education Advice project delivered by the Community Council for Berkshire and the Functional Fitness MOTs project run by Shropshire RCC bring together a range of stakeholders whose contributions make the projects possible.
Staff at ACRE Network organisations identify funding, support volunteers and encourage partners to work together for the benefit of rural communities; they play an extremely valuable role and one to be celebrated during Volunteers Week.