Village halls must innovate for the future says national charity

Published on 7th January 2022

Village Halls Week 2022 set to challenge England’s 10,000+ rural community buildings to do something different.

National charity, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) (of which Devon Communities Together is a member), will be raising an awareness of the contribution village halls make to rural communities, as well as inspiring the volunteers who run them to get creative and improve their offer to their community.

Village Halls Week will take place Monday 24 January – Sunday 30th January 2022 and will be the fifth incarnation of the popular annual campaign which in 2021 saw 800 halls complete an online ‘Domesday Book’, to mark 100 years since their foundation.

Many village halls are already doing innovative things. Some, like Hovingham village in North Yorkshire, with the help of ACRE Network member – Community First Yorkshire – installed electric car charging points to cater for residents who don’t have the opportunity to charge their cars off street.

Others are getting creative on a smaller scale but making equally important contributions to their community. Such was the case in Swallowfield, Berkshire where the hall committee worked with Connecting Communities in Berkshire and the local Get Active scheme to develop seated musical movement exercise sessions for the elderly and those with long term health conditions to improve health and wellbeing while improving the financial sustainability of the hall.

Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Village Halls Manager said, “Village Halls Week 2022 will be a celebration of all the innovative things village halls can do to improve their offer to the local community. We’ve been banging the drum about the many good things that halls achieve for some time – from combating loneliness to supporting local businesses. But this year’s campaign will be a bit different. We know there’s some great examples of halls that’ve gone the extra mile by putting on new activities and services for residents, taking action on climate change or taking steps to become more financially resilient. Members of the ACRE Network will be celebrating these pioneering halls and challenging others to make pledges to get similarly creative”.

The volunteers who run these buildings – estimated to number more than 50,000 – are urged to download a campaign pack from ACRE’s website where they will find more information about the campaign, along with resources to help them get involved.

There are over four hundred village halls in Devon, run by local volunteers. Devon Communities Together provides a support service to assist with governance, management, funding and operating under Covid constraints. please contact Martin Rich: for more information.