In a bid to better connect rural communities, the government has launched a regeneration scheme to see village halls improved. Across the country, villages will be able to use the money to help refurbish their halls or add new and essential features to them, such as meeting rooms. These halls are frequently used to provide a place for social interaction, sports activities, leisure clubs, healthcare and education for villagers to enjoy. They help to bring local citizens together and are often considered to be at the heart of rural communities.
There are over 10,000 village halls across the country and hall committees can apply for grants of up to £75,000. Approximately 100 community building projects will be supported to start work on halls. The scheme coincides with the commemoration of the centenary of the armistice, as many halls were built to celebrate the memory of local people who lost their lives during the first world war.
Funding will cover 20% of the total cost of the projects – the rest will be provided by charities, fundraising and local authority funding. The National Lottery Community Fund and other such grants may also be used to generate extra funds. Applications for funding will be managed by a combination of Defra officials and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) staff, all of who will have plenty of relevant experience in dealing with grant schemes for village halls.
The scheme was officially opened by Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Robert Jenrick at the village hall in Oxton, Nottinghamshire. Oxton village hall has used scheme money to refurbish the kitchen and toilet facilities, as well as install energy efficient lighting and a new heating system.
For those who are interested in applying for funding, more information can be found on the ACRE website. Funding only applies to the refurbishment of existing halls and does not extend to establishing new builds.