How village halls can be rearranged so they are safer for everyone
by Phillip Vincent,

How village halls can be rearranged so they are safer for everyone

A new, visual reference guide to help those reopening community centres, including village halls, has been published by IF_DO in partnership with Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and Clarion Futures

This visually attractive guide prepared by IF_DO is an excellent addition to the information already available to village hall committees

Reopening public spaces in compliance with government guidance is a complicated and daunting affair for the uninitiated. No more so than for the 10,000+ voluntary committees who manage village halls across rural England.

How these buildings can be rearranged so they are safe for everyone who uses them is a particularly important consideration. That’s why ACRE has teamed up with architects IF_DO to produce a visually impactive, and easy to use publication that can be referred to alongside specialist support and advice for village halls offered by ACRE Network members.

Covid-19 Safer Community Centres is a free-to-use guide funded by Innovate UK that sets out clear stages of how to safely reopen community centres and village halls across the UK. Visual diagrams illustrate the spatial adaptations required for hiring and other essential services to recommence as safely as possible.

The guide features the measures Hewish and Puxton Village Hall near Weston Super-Mare have taken to prepare for reopening.

Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Rural Evidence and Village Halls Manager said, “Over the past few months we have been extremely busy interpreting government guidance and providing information to ACRE Network members to make sure village hall committees receive the support they need to safely reopen. This visually attractive guide prepared by IF_DO is an excellent addition to the information already available to village hall committees”.

Thomas Bryans, Director, IF_DO, said “Covid-19 is above all a public health crisis, but it is also one of design. How we occupy and use space have become profound and urgent questions, and design has a vital role to play in helping to answer them. With prolonged or intermittent social distancing likely to be required for the foreseeable future, it is essential that village halls and other public spaces can be adapted to enable their operation in a way that mitigates the risk of transmission. We are delighted to have received funding from Innovate UK to realise this project, and to partner with ACRE and Clarion Futures to develop the Safer Community Centre guide. We are hopeful that it will be of benefit to community groups around the country, and that it will help people to come together again.”

Village halls committees are urged to contact their local ACRE Network member for more information about reopening.


Media contact Phillip Vincent, Public Affairs and Communications Manager, ACRE: 07531107129 Tweet ACRE @ACRE_national

Notes to editor

ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is the national body for 38 independent county-based organisations that make up the ACRE Network. Our vision, to be the voice of rural communities, is supported by the wealth of evidence and intelligence on rural matters that we collect from our members. We use this evidence to influence national policy on rural issues, from housing, health and transport to broadband, services and fuel poverty. Our Network Members, many of whom date back 90 years, have a long, fruitful history of making a difference at grassroots level. They are charitable local development agencies, generally based at county level, which lead, support and enable community initiatives, reaching 52,000 grassroots organisations. Further information about our work on Coronavirus can be accessed here:

IF_DO is an architecture firm established in 2014 by Al Scott, Sarah Castle and Thomas Bryans, IF_DO is an architectural practice dedicated to creating projects with a positive impact on users, the environment and the surrounding community. IF_DO has a particular focus on social infrastructure, and current projects include The Space, a new community centre in north London for the Methodist Church; Albion Street, a new-build meanwhile community workspace in Rotherhithe, south London; and the Observer Building, a 4,000 sqm mixed-use community development in Hastings, East Sussex.