Community First News & Updates

#VillageHallsWeek: A celebration of rural communities

by | Jan 15, 2019 | Community Development, News

Wiltshire’s Communities are preparing to take part in the national celebration, Village Halls Week.

Village Halls Week, which kicks off on Tuesday 22 January, was created last year by national charity Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and their 38 member organisations, including local charity Community First the Rural community Council for Wiltshire and Swindon.

The purpose of the week is to celebrate and say a huge thank you to all the volunteers who invest their time into England’s 10,000 village halls and community buildings, creating vital community spaces in rural areas.

Village Halls are an integral part of Wiltshire’s rural communities but are often overlooked. Think back over the years; birthday parties, christenings, weddings and funerals. Key moments in our lives – all treading the boards of our Village Halls.  This year we think about how Village Halls provide a space for communities to come together, something ever more pertinent with the rising number of people effected by loneliness. 

Rural communities are seeing diminishing services and social areas, such as the closing of pubs and shops. When these community spaces disappear, it becomes harder to connect, meet new people and have that much needed interaction. 

ACRE believe Village Halls play a huge part in tackling these issues, for example providing community shops and pop up pubs where there are none, as well as social groups for older and younger people alike. 

Many of Wiltshire’s village halls are planning their own events during this celebratory week.

The launch event will be held in Cambridgeshire with other events including performances from Ian McMillan, renowned poet and broadcaster and Steve Antony, children’s author and illustrator. Kate Fox, stand-up poet has also written a poem about village halls, commissioned by the NRTF. The list grows as Lord Gardiner of Kimble visits Suffolk, representing the support of Defra for the campaign.

Community First is passionate about supporting village halls and community buildings supporting over 169 members across Wiltshire and Swindon through the Wiltshire Village Halls Association (WVHA) Network.  Community First provides a community buildings service offering support and advice for trustees managing community buildings, CEO of Community First, Lynn Gibson said

“The village halls and community buildings network is so vital to the fabric and wellbeing of any community and we are very proud to continue to support the volunteers and infrastructure which is crucial to their continuation.”

The ACRE network hope to inspire the public to support their hall, or even volunteer. For a full list of events and support available, visit Village Halls Week


Issued 09 January 2019 Notes

#Villagehallsweek (22-28 Jan) is an initiative started by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England).

The ACRE Network is formed of ACRE and its members – 38 rural community councils based at county level across England. Many or the RCCs date back 90 years; ACRE was formed in 1987 and is the national voice for the country’s largest rural network, formed of 52,000 grassroots organisations in 11,000 rural communities.

The Launch Event will be at Little Thetford Village Hall in Cambridgeshire. Cambridgeshire ACRE will celebrate the history of Village Halls with appearances from Deputy Lieutenant Mrs Jane Lewin- Smith and the City of Ely Town Crier Mrs Avril Hayter-Smith.

Community Action Suffolk will welcome the support of Defra, with Lord Gardiner of Kimble Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity in attendance.

Community Action Northumberland welcomes Ian McMillan renowned poet, writer and radio presenter. Ian supported Village Halls Week 2018 by writing ‘A Teapot as big as The Moon’, a poem especially about Village Halls.

GRCC (Community Action in Gloucestershire) host children’s author and illustrator Steve Antony.

Steve will be doing a reading of his new book ‘Amazing’ published January 2019.

Stand-up poet Kate Fox has been commissioned by the National Rural Touring Forum (NRTF) to write and perform a poem. The NRTF are the membership organisation for rural touring schemes, working to bring professional performance art to rural audiences. Kate has recently made two comedy series for BBC Radio 4 called ‘The Price of Happiness’ and her comedy shows have toured from the Edinburgh Fringe to the Southbank Centre.

For a full list of events visit the ACRE Website.

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