Devon Communities Together is encouraging communities across Devon to celebrate and support their local community buildings during Village Halls Week (22-25 January 2018).

Run by the voice for England’s rural community councils, ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), Village Halls Week is designed to shine a spotlight on the network of over 10,000 community buildings in rural England – over 400 of which can be found in Devon - and the volunteers who help to run them.

ACRE member Devon Communities Together provides a support service to village halls, helping with technical matters, advice on funding for major works, governance and management requirements. This week we areencouraging people to find out about how they can get involved with their local hall – whether that’s attending events, groups or classes, becoming a volunteer, or donating to the Love Devon’s Village Hall campaign, which aims to raise a £1 million fund for loans and grants to support Devon’s community buildings.   

Explaining the importance of village halls and their volunteers, Devon Communities Together’s Village Hall Advisor, Martin Rich, said: “Along with the shop, pub and church, the village hall is an essential element of each village’s sense of place. Ranging from small ‘sheds’ to modern community buildings, they are a meeting place, a place of celebration, entertainment, sport and recreation, a place to trade, a centre for local democracy, education and a provider of important services. In recent times, halls have expanded to add shops, post offices, libraries and social clubs to their repertoire.

“Volunteers who give up their time to manage, arrange bookings, organise events, clean and maintain their local hall provide a vital community service. The voluntary committees are taking responsibility for many hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of community assets; they have to get to grips with the financial management and legal requirements of running a hall. They put considerable effort into understanding best practice and sharing ideas with other hall committees; they are amongst the unsung heroes of our villages.”

How can you show your support?

Donate to Love Devon’s Village Hall campaign – Devon’s village halls require repairs, improvements and capital investments to continue to thrive and serve their communities. Research by Devon Communities Together found that Devon’s village halls spent over £11 million on large scale repairs over a three year period, with the need for an additional £23 million in capital investments identified at that time. Devon Community Together’s Love Devon’s Village Hall campaign aims to raise a £1 million fund, which will be open to all Devon’s community buildings to apply for loans and small grants. Along with other funding streams which Devon Communities Together’s advice service helps village halls to access, this new fund will support the fantastic work that the voluntary committees already do and enable them to maintain and improve their buildings to benefit of hundreds of rural communities. Donate securely here.

Use your local village hall - as well as being available to hire for celebrations such as weddings and parties, village halls can also be home to local small businesses such as childcare settings and dog training classes, and regularly host a wide variety of activities from exotic belly dancing to green fingered gardening clubs, pantomimes, older people’s services, children’s groups and much more. Outreach GP surgeries, libraries, community shops and post offices are just some of the other vital community services operated out of village halls. To make a booking or see what’s on near you, get in touch with your local hall. The contact details of over 200 of Devon’s village halls can be found here.

Consider becoming a volunteer - research by Devon Communities Together shows that over 350,000 volunteer hours are donated annually in Devon to help run these amazing community hubs. Could you lend a hand to support your local community? Get in touch with your local committee. The contact details of over 200 of Devon’s village halls can be found here.

If you are involved in running a village hall and would like to find out more about Devon Communities Together’s advisory service or become a member of the charity and enjoy a host of member benefits including an entry on the Devon village Halls website, call 01392 248919, email [email protected] or visit our membership page.