Over the past couple of days, we’ve spotted some of our members pledging to support village halls in their respective counties. Community Resource Shropshire made a commitment to continue their support for volunteers running halls with the statement ‘when they need it’. This is important because every community and hall is different and each community across rural England will have its own needs. Some communities will have a newly refurbished hall that is warm and inviting like The Victory Room in Bucklebury where we held the launch of the campaign, or Pilling Community Centre in Lancashire. Others may be struggling to find the funding to bring their hall up to the standard they aspire to. Many though, will be happy to maintain the status quo for the foreseeable future.
In recognising that all communities can help to fill their hall with a range of activities, events and services we hope that the themes for each day of Village Halls Week will provide ideas for pledges to be made, especially those that seek to offer something for everyone – today’s campaign theme.
In 2020, ACRE commissioned research just before the COVID-19 outbreak which identified 11 categories of activities and services provided by halls.
Private parties, occasional events and celebrations were, as you might expect, the most common type of activity hosted by village halls. And so, as it becomes possible to hold larger events once again, wouldn’t it be great if halls were to pledge to hold celebrations focused on getting their community back together over the long Spring Bank Holiday, or pledging to join the Big Lunch on 5 June!
Film shows, band practices and music lessons, Yoga and dog training sessions were also popular according to the researchers. Some activities were growing in popularity too since the last survey in 2008 such as sewing, cooking and dance classes; perhaps owing to the burgeoning number of reality TV programmes on these themes. The ladies from the patchwork group at Trent Village Hall, Dorset kept sewing through the pandemic, socially distanced of course!
Thankfully, there are always small businesses looking for space to run these types of activities and classes. We will hear from one such business in our Blog on Friday.
Lastly, we know connectivity is becoming increasingly important as hirers expect access to Wi-Fi especially for company meetings, staff training and exhibitions. As more people continue to work from home, more opportunities are opening up. Lyons Community Centre, Bedfordshire is offering lunch for local homeworkers an opportunity to unplug, stretch their legs and chat.
There are truly endless examples of what can be done… We are certainly looking forward to reading your pledges!