Revised Information Sheet for opening village & community halls in Berkshire

by Deborah Clarke, Village Halls/ Rural Evidence Manager, Action with Communities in Rural England

Village and community halls are now able to open their doors and are looking forward to helping their communities get back together for a wide range of events and activities.

Last week our national body ACRE issued a briefing note that provided recommendations for taking steps to keep vulnerable residents safe, whether that be maintaining well-ventilated spaces or encouraging users to wear face masks

ACRE’s Information Sheet on Opening Village Halls has now been updated and version 11 has just beed released along with a set of Appendices. Notes of the changes can be found on pages 1 & 2 of the Information Sheet. Any help and support needed can be provided by our Community Buildings Advisor, Kate, who has been working hard to support hall committees through the ups and downs of changing legislation since March 2020.

Berkshire Youth are running free activities this Summer

Berkshire Youth will be offering lots of fun and enriching activities for young people over the summer holidays, including Zorbing, football, canoeing, plus healthy meals and more.

If you or somebody you know is aged 11+ please be aware of the Summer Holiday Programme, which takes place throughout August, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 1pm – 5pm, at Waterside Centre RG14 1DS, Newbury.

These Summer Holiday Programme activities are free, and there is no need to book; places are allocated on arrival on a first come first serve basis. Please email for more details.

Young people aged 11 – 18 living in Thatcham are also invited to attend the Community Summer Programme

The Community Summer programme takes place throughout August, with a range of free activities for young people to engage in. A full list of the activities available can be seen by clicking here.

There is no need to book your place; places are once again allocated on arrival on a first come first serve basis.
For more information about the Community Summer Programme, please email

Walking for Health in West Berkshire

Just turn up and join in!

The WBC Walking for Health scheme offers regular, led, walks for people of all abilities. The walking groups are friendly, welcoming and empowering, and a great opportunity to explore the outdoors, discover new places and meet new people. Specially trained volunteers are on hand to provide encouragement, support and make sure no one gets left behind. It’s easy to start walking. Walks are free and easy, ranging from 30 to 90 minutes, so they can easily be fitted in as part of your everyday routine. Some walks stop for coffee afterwards in a nearby cafe, a good opportunity to socialise and relax after the walk.

Walks in West Berkshire currently running
(2nd of month) 10am-12pm Stanford Dingley (The Old Boot, Stanford Dingley)
Suitable for beginners ♦ Everybody welcome to walk at their own pace ♦ No stiles options available ♦ Brisk walks, for regular
11am-12pm Stroud Green, Newbury (Opp. The Plough Pub)
(1st & 3rd of month) 10.30-11.15am Beansheaf Community Centre Calcot
(4th of month) 10-11.30am Englefield Estate Walk (Recreation Ground, Englefield Road, Theale)
(Summer only) 6-7pm Mortimer (The Community Centre Car Park, The Street, Mortimer)
10-11.30am Mortimer (The Community Centre Car Park, The Street)
10:30-11.15am Mortimer (The Community Centre Car Park, The Street, Mortimer)
11am-12pm Northcroft Leisure Centre, Newbury (car park)
10:30-11 Burdwood Surgery, Thatcham (Car Park)
10-11am Hosehill Lake, Theale (Fox & Hounds car park)
(1st of month) 10-11.30am Greenham Common (Control Tower car park)
(2nd of month) 10-11am Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham
(3rd of month) 10-11am Snelsmore Common, Newbury (Rangers Office)
(4th of month) 10-11am Northcroft Leisure Centre, Newbury (car park)
(5th of month) 10-11am Nature Discovery Centre, Muddy Lane, Lower Way, Thatcham
For further information on Walking for Health in West Berkshire please contact Public Health on
01635 503437, or visit

If you would like to know more abour setting up a Walk near YOU why not book on our free, online webinar.

Come along to this event to learn what a health walk is, how you can set one up in your local area and how you will be supported by your local Walking for Health coordinator.

Funding Opportunities for Community Groups & Voluntary Organisations in July

Bringing Communities Back Together

The ‘Bringing Communities Back Together’ grant will provide financial aid to local groups in two phases. Phase 1 July – September and phase 2 October – December; either through a celebration event (following social distancing guidelines) or by getting their activities and services back on track. Groups who cannot physically be back together, but whose activities are still open and available to the community, may also be included in this award. Groups may apply for one grant only to the maximum value of £1,000 and minimum of £250 per grant.

Each superstore has a Community Champion, their role is to support projects within the community and support bringing people together. They manage all applications for Asda Foundation grants. The Asda Foundation do not accept applications sent directly from community groups. Please use the Asda Store Locator on the Asda Foundation website to get in touch with your local store and speak to your Community Champion about how we might be able to support you.

How to Apply | Asda Foundation

Next deadline – September 2021

New Fund: Magic Little Grants

The Magic Little Grants Fund provides charities and community groups that are either in their first year of operation or have an annual income under £250k the opportunity to apply for a £500 grant.

This year the fund has expanded to support the following funding themes:

  1. Improving mental wellbeing
  2. Enabling community participation in the arts
  3. Preventing or reducing the impact of poverty
  4. Supporting marginalised groups and promoting equality
  5. Improving biodiversity and green spaces
  6. Enabling participation in physical activity
  7. Responding to the climate emergency and promoting sustainability
  8. Increasing community access to outdoor space

The aim of the Magic Little Grants Fund is to support organisations to access a grant by completing a short application form. Organisations also receive access to the Localgiving online fundraising platform and benefit from online fundraising training and support from our team.

The application process should only take 15 minutes to complete and are reviewed on a rolling basis every month. You should receive a decision on your application and the funding within two months.

Magic Little Grants (

Next Deadline: 31st October 2021

Local Connections Fund
Small grassroots charities and community groups (below £50,000 income) can apply for grants of £300 – £2,500 to tackle loneliness from this National Lotteries Community Fund scheme.
This round of funding will enable local activities to “become more accessible and reach people who may be less likely to attend traditional clubs and societies”. Given the partial relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions in England, the funding will focus on supporting community projects to bring people together – where possible and safe to do so – in face to face settings.
If you received funding in Round 1, you will not be eligible for funding in Round 2.

Deadline for applications is 6 August 2021 at 5pm. Click here for further details.

Let’s Get Active Fund
West Berkshire Council have partnered with Greenham Trust to offer the Let’s Get Active Fund (LGAF) to improve access to physical
activities in West Berkshire. Applications are now open as part of the district’s recovery from Covid-19. The £33,660 pot is available to community groups, organisations, social enterprises, charities, profit-with-purpose businesses and schools in West Berkshire. Click here for more details.

Support for Education, Employability, Homelessness, Health, Wellbeing, The Environment & Sustainability
The DWF Foundation provides funds, resources and support to help communities achieve their full potential. They support charities working
within the topics of education, employability, homelessness, health, wellbeing, the environment and sustainability. With quarterly rounds, the next deadline for applications for grants under £5000 is 31st July. Click here for details, to read the guidelines, register for an application workshop and apply online.

Funding for the Restoration of Historic Buildings
Not-for-profit organisations, such as charitable incorporated organisations, community interest companies and parish and town councils can apply for grants of up to £350,000 towards the capital costs of restoring redundant or underused historic buildings in Town Centres for the benefit of the local community. The funding is being made available through the Transformational Project Grants scheme which is administered by the Architectural Heritage Fund and is part of the wider £15 million Transforming Places Through Heritage Programme and support restoration projects that:
~ will make a positive impact on the vitality
and distinctiveness of the local area
~ include introducing new uses for the building
and offering new opportunities for local people
~ bringing vacant floor space or whole buildings into use
~ having the potential to act as a catalyst for nearby owners to revitalise their property.
Deadline for applications is 31st July. Click here for more info.

National Heritage Memorial Fund – COVID-19 Response Fund
Grants are available to community and public sector organisations in the UK for projects to protect nationally important heritage assets that are at risk due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Prince’s Countryside Fund – Barclays 100x100UK
Covid-19 Community Relief Fund
Funding for farming and rural communities to cope with the impact of Covid-19, to expand on new services that have emerged to support the local community during this time and to build future resilience.

Matthew Good Foundation – Grants for Good Fund
Grants are available for local community groups, charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises in the UK for projects that have a positive impact on communities, people, or the environment.

Postcode Society Trust – South of England
Grants are available for smaller charities and good causes in the south of England.

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Find information about community support and our services during the coronavirus pandemic, on our information for residents pages, our information for businesses pages, and our community support hub page which has guidance to help coordinate community organisations.

See a summary of our Local Outbreak Control Plan and read our frequently asked questions. 

£500k available for ‘CIL’ Community Group Bids

West Berkshire Council; Second round of CiL bid process

West Berkshire District Council (WBDC) is now accepting bids for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding between 1 April 2022 and 31 March 2023. Up to £500,000 has been set aside to be used to “ensure sustainable services through innovation and partnerships” by allocating funding for community groups to bid to support the Adopted Local Plan and Infrastructure Delivery Plan Implications and Impact Assessment. This allocation will come from the 10% strategic CIL pot allocated for ‘Other Services.’

Thanks goes to Berkshire’s CVS’s for the information contacined in this post; Volunteer Centre West Berkshire, Reading Voluntary Action, Bracknell & Wokingham InVOLve and Slough CVS.

Without affordable housing, rural communities are at risk of becoming lifeless, dormitory settlements

by Phillip Vincent, ACRE’s (Action with Communities in Rural England) Communications Manager, blogs for Rural Housing Week 2021 and provides a view on the need for the government to get behind communities and deliver affordable homes in the countryside.

Recently, there has been growing alarm about Covid-related urban flight to the countryside, where housing stock is hoovered up by home workers or purchased as holiday lets or second homes.

Rightly, critics point to consequences such as the upward pressure on house prices, the inability of local residents to compete with this, the loss of younger generations, and the possibility of some villages in more attractive areas becoming empty during the week which in turn impacts on the viability of local shops and services.

It is too simplistic however, to put the blame on wealthier individuals desiring a better life in the sticks or to say the solution is to put an end to second homes or limit the available housing stock to people who have a connection to the local area. The issue runs much deeper and one which is about to be magnified as part of the government’s proposal to up-end the planning system.

The truth is, there has been a longstanding under-supply of new homes in the countryside, particularly those that are affordable to local residents. Successive governments have failed to address this, either through planning reforms or subsidy. In 2019, just 5,558 new affordable homes were built in villages with a population less than 3,000, whilst 80% of completions were private sector dwellings.

It is unsurprising then that the situation appears to be coming to a head at a time when people are spending more time at home and cannot travel overseas. England’s rural areas have many attractions for those seeking more space. To read the rest of this article from Phillip please click here.