Village halls across England are today (20 December) able to apply to the Platinum Jubilee Village Halls Fund for grants to improve buildings and facilities.
Announced by Defra to mark the occasion of Her Late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee in May 2022, the fund recognises the important role that village halls play in supporting rural communities.
According to research conducted by ACRE in 2020, there are over 10,000 village halls to be found across England, 60% of which are the only place where people can meet locally. Aside from hosting a wide range of social and recreational activities for residents, they also host vital services such as post offices, doctors’ surgeries and shops and support an estimated 50,000 livelihoods.
Following a competitive process, ACRE was appointed to manage the fund. The charity already provides specialist support and advice to the volunteers who run these important rural assets through its countrywide network of community support organisations.
James Blake, ACRE’s Chair said, “We are delighted to be administering this grant fund. Village halls are the beating heart of rural communities across England. They provide warm, welcoming spaces that bring people together, combat loneliness and support countless livelihoods which is especially important at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is bearing down on many. This investment, combined with the specialist support and advice of ACRE members will help modernise many of these important buildings so they can continue serving local communities.”
Lord Benyon, Minister for Rural Affairs said: “The Platinum Jubilee Village Halls Fund will create a national network of legacy projects to benefit rural communities. This will be a lasting tribute to the long, exceptional service of Her Late Majesty the Queen and will support village halls, many of which were built in commemoration of Her Majesty’s predecessors, Queen Victoria and King George V. Today, village halls remain a key community asset and efforts to modernise these spaces will ensure that they are used by generations to come.”
News of the grant fund opening comes at a time when many village halls are struggling with increase energy costs. In a survey conducted earlier this year, only 17% of management committees believed their hall was energy efficient and 57% agreed rising utility bills were creating financial difficulties.
Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Village Halls manager said, “News that the Platinum Jubilee Fund is now open for applications will be welcomed by England’s village halls. We hope that many will use this opportunity to future proof their buildings, such as installing public broadband and investing in insulation and heating systems to make them more energy efficient”.
Groups responsible for village halls and working on projects that lead to a reduction in rural loneliness, have a positive impact on the local environment, support the rural economy and contribute to community life will be able to apply for grants between £7,500 and £75,000.
Initial applications to the fund can be made until midnight 20 January 2023. Another window for applications is expected mid-February but the duration of this will depend on the value of unallocated funds remaining.
Notes to editors
Media contact: Phillip Vincent, email@example.com, 01285 425645
For further information, including how to apply for the fund visit: https://acre.org.uk/platinum-jubilee-village-halls-fund/
ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) is a charity speaking up for and supporting rural communities. It is the national body of the ACRE Network, England’s largest rural grouping of community support charities which together reach over 35,000 community groups annually, and lever in over £34 million each year in support of initiatives that equip people with the knowledge, skills, and connections needed to improve their local community.
Photo credit: Barton Bendish Village Hall