Q - Where can I get funding to support the parish council or our community building during the Covid pandemic?

A - For community groups in Devon there are two main schemes to be aware of. Un-constituted groups may apply but they will need a sponsor e.g., their parish council to enable them to access the fund. In this case you should make contact with your Parish Council in the first instance and they can be supported by the Devon Association of Local Councils (DALC) should they have any queries about being a sponsor.

1. Devon County Council’s Covid Action Fund is available to help community led schemes to enable local level support. For example the scheme can help with costs associated with;

  • safe deliveries of essential goods and services to those who are vulnerable, such as foods and medicines
  • support for accessing online information and services
  • virtual support groups to help people to stay connected and informed and to maintain and support mental health and wellbeing
  • transport-related initiatives that support safe community responses to the outbreak

To find out more and apply to the scheme please see - https://www.devon.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-in-devon/document/covid-19-prompt-action-fund/

2. The Devon Coronaviris Response and Recovery Fund is administered by the Devon Community Foundation and supports local response groups, the fund and will help the recovery of organisations that have lost income and need to re-build their activity.  http://devoncf.com/give/devon-coronavirus-response-recovery-fund/

For community buildings, most village and community halls should be eligible for two forms of support: 100% business rate relief, (the Expanded Retail Discount or ERD), which is available to places of public assembly and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG). Action for Communities in Rural England (ACRE) have compiled guidance on these funding sources which can be accessed here - https://acre.org.uk/rural-issues/coronavirus-rural-halls-and-small-charities

Q - How can I find a local Covid response group?

A The Devon County Council map of Covid support groups is regularly updated and provides a comprehensive database of support available within Devon here - https://www.devon.gov.uk/coronavirus-advice-in-devon/document/covid-19-prompt-action-fund/

Q - Should village halls open lettings for small group activities?

A The answer is ‘no’, the regulations were amended on 1st June to permit the use of halls for pre-school activities and now states:

The Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England)(Amendment) (No. 3) Regulations 2020 Regulation 5.7

A person who is responsible for a community centre must ensure that, during the emergency period, the community centre is closed except where it is used to provide

(a) essential voluntary activities or urgent public support services (including the provision of food banks or other support for the homeless or vulnerable people, blood donation sessions or support in an emergency), or

(b) for early years childcare provided by a person registered on the Early Years Register under Part 3 of the Childcare Act 2006.

“Early years childcare” is defined as in the Childcare Act 2006 and means a for children from birth to five years old.

We have continued to try to engage with DEFRA, DDCMS, MHCLG and Dept for Education over both formal Guidance and the Health Protection regulations as they affect Village Halls for re-opening especially in relation to pre-school and educational use. The Draft Regulations were issued on Sunday 31st May and concerns have been flagged with DEFRA that the new clause 5. (7) b. may not be adequate to cover all educational and otherwise permitted uses to which Village Halls might be put between 1st June and further changes on 15th June.

The Government’s recovery plan provides for some opening of community centres (village halls) in phase 3. The earliest implementation date would be 4th July, subject to Covid19 control measures having been achieved. We anticipate that this will be a limited re-opening and Village Hall Advisors are working on advice for halls to assist them to prepare for re-opening. This will be published, circulated to halls and available in our newsletter, once we know what changes to the regulations are to be made. In the meantime requests for activities must be declined. Halls using their grounds for approved activities should inform their insurer and should not allow access to the building for the use of toilets, kitchen or any other purpose.

To speak to one of our advisors, please call 0808 1963390.