Advice for keeping village halls safe this winter

Briefing prepared by our national body Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) provides an interpretation of the Government’s new Covid Winter Plan to help those managing community buildings.

Over the summer months, many of England’s 10,000+ village halls have reopened for the enjoyment of their local community. Halls like Warton in Lancashire who hosted a Big Back Together Bash celebrating all of the groups who use the building, and Mickleton Village Hall in County Durham who’ve been holding regular creative workshops with rural touring groups to bring arts to their community.

But with the winter months approaching and fears that there may be a more pronounced third wave of the virus, ACRE is urging halls management committees to take note of the latest government guidance for keeping their users safe.

The charity’s briefing sets out some practical measures halls can take to address risks when hiring out buildings based on an interpretation of the government’s preferred approach to managing the pandemic over the coming months. This includes keeping spaces well ventilated, encouraging the use of face masks and continued use of Track and Trace QR codes – although none of these are still required by law.

Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Village Halls Manager said, “We hope the briefing we have published will reassure volunteers managing village halls that they can continue to serve their community in the confidence that they are doing their very best to keep everyone safe”.

Kate Meads, CCB’s Community Buildings Advisor said; “This is really sensible advice from ACRE that will help village halls and community buildings in Berkshire to manage Covid risks whilst adhering to government guidelines and advice over the colder months .”

‘Green’ Christmas trees – from your local nature reserves

Edgbarrow Woods Car Park, Wildmoor Heath, Sandhurst Road, Crowthorne   near RG45 7PP

Saturday 4 December 2021

11.00 to 15.00

The local Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is having its annual Christmas tree event on Saturday 4 December.

The Scots pine trees are sourced from local heathland by the Wildlife Trust.    The ‘green’ Christmas trees are sustainably grown, freshly cut the weekend of the sale and drop-resistant.   Felling the trees helps with the heathland management and restoration. 

Christmas gift items, Wildlife Trust cards, calendars, mistletoe, holly, pine cones and willow stars will also be on sale.

Come on down to Edgbarrow Woods Car Park, Wildmoor Heath on Saturday 4 December for your Christmas tree and other goodies.

Support your local wildlife sites.  All tree proceeds go to the Wildlife Trust – Berks, Bucks & Oxon (BBOWT).

For further details visit

Funding Opportunites for groups and voluntary organisation in Berkshire – October edition

Funding For Charities Working To Help Prevent Crime & Create Safer Communities
Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC), Matthew Barber, has now launched the £100,000 TVPCC Community Fund to support community groups across the Thames Valley. The
Community Fund is intended to support voluntary and community groups that help to prevent crime and keep communities safe.

Money for the scheme comes from the Police Property Act Fund, which is jointly managed by the PCC and the Chief Constable, and is created from the proceeds from the sale of items seized from criminals that cannot be returned to their rightful owners. Organisations from across Thames Valley can apply for either a micro grant (under £1,000), or larger grant (over £5,000) for projects that support one of the PCC’s ‘Police and Criminal Justice Plan’ priorities. The closing date for this round of applications is 3rd October and applications will be considered jointly by the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) and the Chief Constable. Click here for further information and the application form. Successful recipients will be
invited to attend a presentation ceremony, due to be held in November 2021.

Faith New Deal Pilot Fund
This is a new, competitive grant programme to help support faith-based organisations to use their resources effectively within their community and to build trust between national government, local government and faith groups. The Government wants to recognise the role faith-based organisations play in the resilience of our communities and the importance of local faith groups working collaboratively to respond to societal issues. Applicants must demonstrate how they will meet all the required strategic objectives. Bids should outline delivery plans for innovative projects to be delivered by new or existing partnerships and will be for grants up to £200,000. Larger bids for grants over £125,000, will require a match donation from a philanthropic funder. Applications close on the 7th October. Click here for details and to apply.

Grants For Charities Helping Those In Need
The Betsy Foundation is a family run initiative giving grants to small and medium sized charities which make the world a better place for those in need. Our mission is to assist the organisations which provide this deeply needed support to young people in our communities.  We support a broad spectrum of organisations, focusing on the most vulnerable people in our communities. We feel passionately that those who are struggling should have the best chance of accessing the resources they need. We normally provide financial grants of up to £30,000 to UK-based charities that operate in the South-East to help them overcome poverty, homelessness and abuse for the younger members of our society. We are interested to hear from you if a grant from the Betsy Foundation could unlock your potential to deliver a vital project. Applications will next be considered in November. Click here to learn more.

The Return to Play Fund For Sports Clubs & Groups
An additional £5 million of National Lottery funding has been made available to continue supporting clubs and local organisations to set up and run their own crowdfunding campaigns to help sustain them through the Covid-19 pandemic and return to play. Sport England’s Active Together Fund is a crowdfunding initiative that can match fund successful Crowdfunder campaigns by up to £10,000. This funding option is about supporting local clubs through the coronavirus crisis and with the return to play. Click here to learn more.

Marsh Charitable Trust

The Trust focuses on providing funding which could help small organisations pay for various running costs, such as volunteer expenses, training days, equipment maintenance and other core outgoings. Our funding strategy is to provide long-term core funding for such costs, as we understand that many of the organisations we support depend on unrestricted income in order to meet their operating needs. Grants are unrestricted and range from £300-£2,000. The Trust aims to build long-standing relationships with successful applicants and, subject to an annual review, continue its support over time. Click here to learn more.

Ocado’s Foundation for Good Grants
Ocado is working with BizGive to support charity and fundraising activities across the UK. Grants of up to £1,000 are available for charities, CICs and community projects
across the UN Sustainable Development Goals of health/ wellbeing, education, economic growth, reduced inequalities, responsible consumption/production and/or climate action.
In-kind goods are also available on request and applications for digital volunteering accepted. Applications close at the end of this year. Click here for further details.

National Emergencies Trust & Crowdfunder partner up for ‘pound-for-pound’ match funding opportunity
The National Emergencies Trust launches £1.2million Local Action Fund with Crowdfunder to support community and voluntary organisations affected by the pandemic

  • A total of £1,220,000 match funding is on offer from the National Emergencies Trust’s Coronavirus Appeal to help local charities and groups to counter the financial impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic
  • Through the Local Action Fund on the Crowdfunder platform, the National Emergencies Trust will match donations, pound for pound, up to a total of £10,000 per charity.
  • The fund will focus on projects taking positive action for people in their communities affected by the pandemic, from supporting mental health, to assisting with financial hardship or helping communities disproportionately impacted by Covid-19
  • Eligible charities and groups will be able to use the funding in any way that enables their efforts, from covering core costs to launching new local services

The National Emergencies Trust hopes the partnership with Crowdfunder will reach small and micro organisations that have not yet accessed funding from its Coronavirus Appeal, either due to lack of awareness or not having the resources to apply for funding.

If eligible, successful organisations will be required to set up a crowdfunding campaign with an aim to raise money to either launch new local initiatives or to enable them to continue existing services. The National Emergencies Trust will match donations, pound for pound, up to a total of £10,000.

Eligible organisations include registered charities, community interest companies, constituted organisations and non-registered charities, churches and other religious organisations, and other voluntary community organisations deemed appropriate by Crowdfunder.

Deadline for applications is 22 October 2021 Read more

BCF Vital for Berkshire Fund – deadline 18th October 2021

This Berkshire Community Fund (BCF) round of funding will focus broadly on charities serving key groups such as children and young people, older people, those with disabilities and those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic

They we will prioritise charities and community groups that work to tackle issues and needs amongst:

  • Children and young people
  • Older people
  • People with disabilities
  • Those who continue to be impacted by the pandemic

To ensure an even spread of funding across Berkshire, in this round they encourage groups in Slough and those providing youth activities in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM) to apply. However they will remain open to applications from Berkshire-based groups outside these two areas. For further information please click here.

Localgiving Magic Little Grants – deadline 31 October 2021
The Magic Little Grants 2021 programme promises to be even bigger and better than ever. This gives grants of £500 to small charities and community groups thanks to the players of the People’s Postcode Lottery. Funding can go towards any of the below projects. For further details please click here:

  • Improving mental wellbeing
  • Enabling community participation in the arts
  • Preventing or reducing the impact of poverty
  • Supporting marginalised groups and promoting equality
  • Improving biodiversity and green spaces
  • Enabling participation in physical activity
  • Responding to the climate emergency and promoting sustainability
  • Increasing community access to outdoor space

Sovereign Community Funding Open on The Good Exchange

A second round of Sovereign community funding opened on The Good Exchange on 1st September 2021 for projects that support ‘Community Cohesion and Growth’ and are located within three miles of where Sovereign has homes.
Sovereign is specifically looking for projects that are all about growing and reconnecting after COVID – reigniting community organisations, inviting people to join in, share their skills, learn new ones and bringing the community together.
Applications are open until 31st October 2021 and fundraising projects must be live on The Good Exchange by this date in order to be considered. A £45,000 pot is available. 
Find out more information about Sovereign Grants on The Good Exchange here.   

Poundland Foundation
Deadline: N/A
Grants are available for local charities and organisations across the UK working to make a difference in their communities.

Moto in the Community Trust
Deadline: N/A
Grants are available for community organisations and schools operating within a 15-mile radius of a Moto site for projects and activities that deliver benefits to local communities.  

Pets at Home Foundation – Pets Through People Grants
Deadline: N/A
Grants are available for charities who provide temporary or ongoing assistance to ensure pets can remain with their owners, and/or change the lives of adults and children through the provision of animal-based activities.

Victoria Wood Foundation
Deadline: N/A
Grants are available for arts projects and initiatives in the UK.

As always thanks to our superb Berkshire VCS’s for the information contained in this article – Slough CVS, Involve, Reading RVA and West Berkshire Volunteer Centre.

Marking 100 years of support for England’s village halls

Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) to hold event celebrating a century of advice and support provided to England’s rural community buildings

It is estimated there are over 10,000 village halls to be found in most villages, from Berwick-upon-Tweed to the Isles of Scilly – many of which date back to the 1920s.

Her at CCB we know that these halls are the beating heart of the communities they serve, providing what is quite often the only place for people to meet and socialise, and sustaining plenty of livelihoods in the process.

But running these buildings is no easy task. Furthermore, they are run almost entirely by volunteers as charitable organisations. This can involve juggling the bookings and requirements of different groups, keeping the building in good condition and taking heed of various regulatory requirements.

Thankfully, there has been a network of specialist advisers on hand to help this army of volunteers working in each rural county of England – a service that is backed up nationally by our national body ACRE who work with government and policy makers to secure funding and changes in policy and legislation.

On Monday 1st November, there will be a celebration of the service the ACRE Network has provided to halls over the past 100 years.

The event is taking place at South Luffenham Village Hall in Rutland which is itself a ‘War Hut’ dating back to the 1920s but recently renovated thanks to the Village Hall Improvement Grant Fund managed by ACRE.

Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Village Halls Manager said, “Anyone with an interest in the history of village halls should book a place at this celebratory event. You can look forward to hearing about the history of South Luffenham Hall, as well as talks by the Rt Hon Lord Benyon, Minister for Rural Affairs and Biosecurity and various illuminati from the ACRE Network”.

On the 2nd and 3rd November, ACRE Network Village Halls Advisers will meet in Leicester to refresh their knowledge and share good practice carrying on the tradition of the annual residential training event which has been taking place since the late 1990s.

‘100 Years of Village Halls’ is taking place at 1:30pm on 1 November 2021. Anyone wanting to attend in person or join a live stream can book a place here.

Book now!