Most people care about their local community. Many would do more to help their neighbours if they could.
In rural areas, there is a long history of people taking action in their community, from the volunteer management committees that run England’s 10,000+ village halls to good neighbour schemes and parish plans.
But this effort is often overlooked by policy makers, funding for community initiatives is piecemeal and the age of volunteers is generally getting older. Sometimes it can feel like an uphill challenge getting a good idea for a community project off the ground or that decisions taken elsewhere will run roughshod over local effort.
Members of the ACRE Network have been supporting rural community initiatives for over 100 years. They help people turn good ideas into workable local projects, and help volunteers manage and sustain ongoing commitments. Without their support, many of England’s rural communities would be much worse off, potentially without places and opportunities where people can meet and gather or services that individuals rely upon.
We want to see a renaissance in rural community life by devolving genuine power, responsibility and budgets to local rural communities whilst also ensuring that all have access to practical help, advice and support. We also believe rural areas should be fully engaged and represented in local/ regional devolution and any re-organisation of local government, so that decisions can be taken as close as possible to the communities that are affected by them.
Specifically, we are calling on government to:
Invest in the ACRE Network’s support for rural civil society at the local level through support, advice, training and creation/retention of community-owned assets
Fund additional support from the Network to rural civil society throughout the devolution/local government re-organisation process
Continue the Village Hall Improvement Grant programme