VILLAGE HALLS WEEK LAUNCHED IN BUCKLEBURY WEST BERKSHIRE

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

Connecting Communities in Berkshire (CCB), alongside national charity Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), launched Village Hall’s Week from the newly renovated and extended Victory Room in Bucklebury on Monday 24th January 2022. CCB’s President and undersecretary of state at the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (DEFRA), The Right Honourable Lord Benyon, made a visit to meet the Trustees of the Victory Room and officially opened Village Halls Week.

#VillageHallsWeek is in its fifth year and took place from Monday 24th January to Sunday 30th January 2022. The week helped raise awareness of the contribution village halls make to rural communities as well as inspire volunteers who run them to get more creative and improve their offer to their community.

CCB is part of the ACRE Network, England’s largest rural grouping of community support charities that provide year-round support and advice to village halls.

Richard Quallington, Executive Director at ACRE welcomed everyone that attended the meeting in person and via an online live stream.

Kate Meads, Community Buildings Advisor welcoming guests to the event

Richard said: ““This is the fifth year of Villages Halls Week; our campaign which aims to recognise the huge contributions village halls make to their local communities. The tens of thousands of volunteers who run them and the many services they offer deserve a special thank you this year. Many provided a lifeline during the pandemic and as society opens up again we are focusing this campaign on looking to the future – at innovation and encouraging village halls to do something different to benefit their community.”

Tim Parry, Chief Executive at CCB said it was an honour to hold the launch event in Berkshire; “Village Halls Week is a celebration of many things, but most importantly it draws attention to the dedication of the many hundreds of volunteers in West Berkshire who give their time free-of-charge to keep village halls open, safe and welcoming to the whole community. The event at the Victory Room, live-streamed to halls across England, launched Village Halls Week and our celebration of the many activities we attend at village halls and the hard work of everyone taking responsibility for our welfare while we are there. Activities at halls are a lifeline for many people, which is why CCB is dedicated to providing all the support that village hall management committees need to ensure they are always open and available to their community.”

John Brims, Chair of Trustees at Victory Room spoke about the importance of saving a hall that dated back to its first meeting on 7th July 1920 and from the outset had a sense of being a hall for the community. With the renovation taking place he stressed the importance of continuing the life of the hall and thus ensuring that it would go on being an important resource to the local community. It is currently used by children, youths, sports events, wellbeing functions as well as key community events like quiz nights, wine tasting, and family fun days.

Kate Meads CCB’s Community Buildings Adviser said “We estimate that in Berkshire alone there are over 900 volunteer Trustees running Village Halls and Community Buildings in their spare time. These facilities are often the only community-owned assets in an area and may often be the last meeting place in a rural community. The hub holds a community together at times of celebration, crisis and for regular affordable recreation and social activities. CCB’s Community Buildings Advice Service supports Trustees with information, training, and guidance. It is an absolute pleasure to work with such community-spirited volunteers.”

Lord Benyon giving his thoughts on the important role village halls play in community life

Lord Benyon, Minister for Rural Affairs said:

“I was delighted to visit the Victory Room, Bucklebury, to mark the launch of Village Halls week – an initiative which celebrates the important role village halls play in bringing rural communities closer together.”

“Defra works alongside Action with Communities in Rural England and its network of councils, to support the growth and upkeep of these vital institutions for the communities they represent”.

If you were unable to join on the day but would like to view a recording of the event you can find them on the links below.

Link to Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ACREnational

Link to You Tube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUGcU7HyX2fe71sh5rW9n8Q

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