Introducing Kate and our Community Buildings Advice Service

If you’re involved with running or managing a village hall or community building in Berkshire and have yet to hear about our charities fantastic Community Buildings Advice Service then take a look at this quick video which introduces it. In order to run and fund the service we do have to charge annual membership fees; if you’d like to find out how you can become a member please click on this webpage; or email

Hear from our Community Buildings Adviser Kate about the support she can offer village halls and from Edward a Trustee of Englefield Village Hall regarding the support and advice they have received from Kate.

Post Office News from Citizens Advice

Post offices remain most valued local service

Post offices are still one of the most valued community services according to the annual Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) Community Barometer. The barometer looks at services across key measures like reducing loneliness, how positive an impact they have on the community and how essential they are. Post offices take joint first place alongside convenience stores.

For the first time, the research measures the impact on house prices of different local services, and post offices come out on top. ACS comments that “despite the movement online of many services, it’s striking that consumers are still looking for physical service providers like the Post Office”.

Have you got a vision for your village? 

The Prince’s Countryside Fund is inviting applications for grants of up to £25,000 from innovative projects that will create a long-term difference in remote rural areas of the UK. 

The PCF’s grant programme aims to empower rural communities to become more self-sufficient and viable, by funding community-led solutions. With thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, the PCF aims to invest at least £500,000 each year through our grant programmes to make projects happen, particularly in hamlets, villages, and small towns. The PCF is particularly interested in receiving applications from projects in East Anglia, the north east of England, Wales and Northern Ireland in this grant round.  

The Northern Fells Group were awarded a grant by the PCF in April 2021. Libby Grahamsaid: “We’re using the funding to respond to the post-pandemic needs of our community, alongside the more than 250 volunteers who help us. Our Men in Sheds project is open three days a week and provides a safe place for men to meet to undertake a range of activities, like furniture repairs for the community. We are very grateful to the PCF for their support of our project.” The PCF’s Village Survival Guide gives inspiration as to how communities can come together to build a real future for rural Britain, covering how to set up a number of projects, from transport schemes to better broadband. 

If you have an idea for a project in your community, you can sign up to the PCF’s grants surgeries, to discuss this with the charity’s grant making team. Held every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday at 2pm during the application period, you can book your slot at  Applications for grants close on 17 September 2021 at midday. To find out more about the PCF’s grant programmes, including eligibility criteria and a copy of the application form, visit You can buy a copy of the Village Survival Guide at

CCB’s Autumn Training Programme for Village Hall Trustees and Community Buildings Management Committees

Essential skills for Village Hall and Community Building Trustees
This 2 hour session will be perfect for new Trustees, existing Trustees who want to brush up their skills and anyone thinking about taking the plunge and becoming a Village Hall/Community Building Trustee.
When: October 21st @ 6.30pm
Venue: Englefield Village Hall
Booking link:

Low-carbon facilities: Migrating to renewable power and renewable heating systems?

All you need to know from an independent expert Tom Macdonald, Berkshire Project Officer from the Low Carbon
Work places grant scheme. Every Hall is different and no single solution fits every hall, Tom will guide us through the many options and answer your questions.
When: November 11th, 11.00 am
Where: Online
(after the CCB AGM which we would also LOVE you to attend)
Booking link:

Safeguarding for Village Halls and Community Buildings
We recommend that every Trustee attends this Safeguarding session if they did not attend last year. It will provide valuable updates and
information on Trustees responsivities for Safeguarding and if you do not have a Safeguarding Policy, we will ensure you get a model document and all the information needed to create your own.
When: December 1st – 2pm
Where: Online

Booking Link:

Opinion Piece: Why Reading needs a Green Belt

Here at CCB we always love to hear from our readers and when Paul Stevens, Chair of Arborfield Village Hall Management Committee, contacted us we were interested to read his opinions and happy to share it with a wider audience. Take a look and if you agree why not get involved by signing Paul’s petition.

Why Reading needs a Green Belt

Reading has some of the highest property prices in the country, making it a prime target for property developers. If we allow this to continue unchecked the resultant urban sprawl is threatening to create one vast housing estate covering most of Berkshire. The idea behind a “Green Belt” is to create a buffer between towns. As pressure for housing increases so does the need to keep some separation between settlements. Yes, we need housing, but do we still need as much office, car parking and shopping space in this increasingly online world? Instead of constantly building on our dwindling green space would it not be better to re-purpose some of our existing urban space? Put simply, use our brownfield sites for housing, not greenfield sites?

If we grew more of our own food rather than importing it we could significantly reduce our carbon footprint. Green spaces, whether being worked for food or simply enjoyed for leisure are a vital part of addressing many of societies current health and mental well-being issues. Our countryside provides a place to escape the stresses of modern life where people can breathe fresh air, get some outdoor exercise and enjoy nature, as well as delivering fresh, locally produced food. Cutting down on emissions from transport and encouraging biodiversity we can start to make a positive difference to the global Climate Emergency.

Reading has ambitions to become a City in 2022. Surely the small towns, villages and communities that surround Reading are a large part of the unique heritage that makes Reading deserving of City status? England’s 14 Green Belts cover more than a tenth (12.4%) of land in the country, and provide a breath of fresh air for 30 million people. Green Belts help prevent urban sprawl, and protect our countryside from encroachment, but did you know they’re home to 19% of all traffic free cycle routes and 34% of Community Forest land? We need more cycle routes and we need more trees, particularly around the proposed “City of Reading”. This is a unique chance to leave a lasting legacy.

Please show your support for this idea by signing the petition here:

You can also show your support by following our Facebook page here:

Contributed by; Paul Stevens

*In the interests of remaining neutral opinions in this article are Paul’s alone and do not represent Connecting Communities in Berkshire’s as an independent charity.*