The dedicated band of specialist advisers who support England’s 10,000 rural village halls are holding their annual training event in Exeter next week.
The two-day event, from April 29-30, brings together village hall advisers from 34 counties from Devon to Durham to share their knowledge and best practice.
On the agenda for the 39 delegates will be issues that help to keep village halls at the heart of rural communities – from funding and IT to licensing and employment.
Speakers at the Rougemont Hotel will include representatives of the BIG Lottery, Awards 4 All, the Charity Commission,Devon County Council and music licensing organisations PRS for Music and PPL.
"The annual training event is a great opportunity for the advisers to get together and share ideas about how to help village halls survive and thrive."
The event is organised by village hall advisers from across the South West with the support of ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England). ACRE is the national voice for the Network of 38 rural community councils who employ advisers to support the 80,000 volunteers who manage rural community buildings.
It is the first visit to Exeter for the event, which moves around the country and is now celebrating its 15th year.
ACRE’s Rural Community Buildings Officer Deborah Clarke said: “Village halls are hugely valued by their communities for playing a multi-purpose role, serving as a social centre, arts centre, sports centre and in some cases providing education, health or retail services.
“The volunteers who manage them need specialist support, which demands time, expertise and money. Our Network of advisers is working hard to maintain this service against a backdrop of rapidly reducing funding for professional support organisations.
“The annual training event is a great opportunity for the advisers to get together and share ideas about how to help village halls survive and thrive.”
Insurance giant Aon UK Limited has supported the event since 2000.Ed Huston, Aon’s Client Relationship Manager said: “Aon are proud to continue our long-standing support of the village hall advisers’ training event.
“We fully recognise the vital role that is performed by the advisers and we are delighted to be able to help make it possible for them to come together at this important event.”