Vibrant village hallsadmin2023-07-05T11:00:56+00:00
Vibrant village halls
England’s 10,000+ village halls are at the heart of rural community life. Through a network of skilled advisers, we offer a nationwide advice and information service for the volunteers who manage these important community buildings.
Many village halls were built after the First World War. Set up in a concerted national effort to develop social and educational provision in rural areas, they have adapted over the years to provide a space for many activities from exercises classes, playgroups and weddings to hosting vital services such as post offices, doctors’ surgeries and shops. Quite often, they are the only place for people to meet and socialise locally. They also sustain an estimated 50,000 livelihoods connected with use of the venue.
These buildings are almost entirely managed by volunteers. Based on our last national survey of village halls, we estimate 80,000 people regularly volunteer their time to keep these important community assets alive. But this is no easy task. Running a hall requires good governance, funding and an ability to negotiate red tape.
Through a network of skilled advisers, ACRE coordinates a nationwide information and advice service for village halls. Advisers are based in every rural county of England and combine their specialist knowledge of running community buildings with local knowledge.
Village hall advisers help with a wide range of queries, from holding AGMs to recruiting volunteers, applying for funding and building relationships with councils. Contact details for advisers can be found in the ACRE Member Directory.
Nationally, ACRE researches and develops information and delivers training to enable village halls advisers to provide a top-notch service, as well as campaigning to raise an awareness of the contribution that halls make to rural communities, and the support needed to keep them going. This includes work with the Charity Commission to ensure model documents are up to date.
ACRE also administers the £700,000 Defra Rural Community Buildings Loan Fund which helps community groups with renovation, refurbishment and building projects. And in 20 counties, our members use our quality standards scheme for village halls – Hallmark – which rewards and recognises good practice.
We are encouraging all Government departments to recognise the multiple economic, social and environmental benefits of village halls and similar rural community buildings. Specifically, we would like policy makers to:
Include them in initiatives and plans so that all halls are able to reach carbon neutral targets
Tackle the burden of irrecoverable VAT and maintain other tax reliefs and exemptions that are an important contribution to the financial sustainability of halls
Consider all options possible for providing capital funding to improve and maintain England’s ageing stock of halls
ACRE Network Case Study – Carrshield Village Hall, Northumberland
Find out how the rural community of Carrshield in Northumberland turned an old mine building into a warm, welcoming and inclusive village hall