Village halls 'vital service providers'

Village halls are vital when it comes to delivering rural services, Defra minister Lord Gardiner of Kimble has said.

The rural affairs minister and Conservative peer described the community buildings as the “beating heart” of rural England.

He was speaking ahead of Village Halls Week, which he is due to launch on Monday (22 January).

Organised by the charity Action with Communities in Rural England, the special week aims to highlight the work done by village halls and volunteers.

    See also: New network for 10,000 village halls

Lord Gardiner said he was delighted to celebrate the vital role played by village halls within communities across the country.

“Whether it is hosting essential services like post offices and doctors’ surgeries, or simply creating a social space for local communities, village halls are the beating heart of rural England.”

    Important network

He added: “I would like to congratulate all of the volunteers for their tireless work in maintaining and supporting this network and helping our rural areas to prosper.”

Lord Gardiner is due to visit three village halls in Buckinghamshire – at Widmer End, Naphill and Dunsmore – during a tour hosted by Community Impact Bucks (CIB).

In total, 38 ACRE member organisations, including CIB, are running Village Halls Week to highlight the importance of England's diverse network of 10,000 community buildings.

Some 80,000 volunteers work tirelessly to keep the buildings open, says ACRE, which manages a £700k Rural Community Buildings Loan Fund on behalf of Defra.

   Dedicated volunteers

CIB chief executive Nick Phillips said: “We have over 120 village halls in Bucks, all run by teams of dedicated volunteers.

“A thriving village hall is a lifeline to so many in rural communities; hosting everything from social lunches to art classes, yoga to pre-schools.

“I’m delighted to be able to show Lord Gardiner just some of our local halls and the difference they make to the people who use them.”

Village halls week is being promoted on social media using the hashtag #VillageHallsWeek.


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