ACRE says £3 million fund announced by Government will safeguard the future of many valued rural community buildings

ACRE says £3 million fund announced by Government will safeguard the future of many valued rural community buildings

30th May 2022

Timed to coincide with Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee, the government has committed to supporting over 100 rural community buildings with capital improvements. This follows in the footsteps of investments made in village halls as part of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee (1897) and King George V‘s Silver Jubilee (1935).

There are over 10,000 village halls to be found in most rural communities across England, providing residents with what is quite often the only place to meet and socialise locally. They host a wide range of activities from exercises classes, playgroups to weddings and many accommodate vital services such as post offices, doctors’ surgeries and shops.

Responding to the news, Action with Communities in Rural England’s (ACRE) Chair, David Emerson CBE, said: “We are delighted to know that through this capital funding programme, the Government is renewing its support for village halls in this jubilee year. At the heart of rural communities for over a century, these unique volunteer-run halls do so much to support the well-being of local residents, as well as helping to sustain the many livelihoods which depend on use of these important buildings. This is an announcement that is especially appropriate in the week that 1000s of halls across the country are hosting local celebrations of the royal jubilee.”

Member organisations affiliated to ACRE have a long history of supporting the volunteers who manage these buildings. They employ specialist advisers based in every county who are on hand to help make sure halls have effective governance procedures in place, comply with red tape and are welcoming spaces that everyone can enjoy. ACRE also administered the previous Village Halls Improvement Grant Scheme which ran between 2018 and 2021 worth £2.8 million sponsored by Defra.

Speaking of the difference that capital grant funding has made to village halls previously, Deborah Clarke, the charity’s Village Halls Manager said, “Investment in a community’s hall renews commitment and enthusiasm. The grants awarded enabled hall committees to upgrade their buildings making them more energy efficient by renewing roofs, windows and heating systems alongside extensions to provide more space for community activity. We are looking forward to learning about this new fund in due course”.

Full details of the application process and the eligibility criteria for village halls wishing to apply for the fund are yet to be released by the Government. In the meantime, hall management committees are advised to contact the Defra press team if they have any questions

Lorrainne Smyth ACTion with Communities in Cumbria (ACT)'s CEO said: "This fund is a good way to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, following on from other grants that many halls either started with or made major improvements from. Cumbria often does well from national funds and we look forward to supporting halls with this one, once the information is available. As soon as we know more we will circulate information to all the community buildings we have contact with and Hellen Aitken - our Lead Village Hall advisor - will, as ever, provide support to applicants".

If you are not currently an ACT Supporter, but play a role on a Community Building / Village Hall committee in Cumbria, then please do join us so you can receive the information direct.

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