A £3 million fund to improve village halls and better connect rural communities across the country has been launched by the government, with funding to support around a hundred local building projects to help rural communities ‘better connect’.
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UK Government writes:
A £3 million fund to improve village halls and better connect rural communities across the country has been launched on 5 April 2019 by the government. With more than 10,000 village halls across the country, these spaces provide vital hubs for communities to connect, collaborate and celebrate. Village hall committees are now able to apply for grants of up to £75,000 towards refurbishment and alteration of their buildings, from improvement works on existing facilities through to new meeting rooms.
The new scheme, which will help around 100 community building projects to get on site and start work, was opened by Rural Affairs Minister Lord Gardiner and Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick at the Oxton Village Hall in Nottinghamshire. Speaking at the launch, hosted by the Rural Community Action Nottinghamshire, Minister for Rural Affairs Lord Gardiner said: ‘Village halls are the cornerstone of our rural communities. They provide vital spaces and facilities for people across the country – from fitness and social activity through to healthcare and education. I am delighted to launch officially this £3 million grant scheme for village halls, supporting these important hubs for our local communities.’
Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury, Robert Jenrick said: ‘Village halls are the heart of rural communities. This £3 million will help ensure that people living in villages across the country will be able to enjoy these important assets for many years to come. Many village halls were built as memorials to local people who lost their lives in the first world war and this funding is part of our national commemoration of the centenary of the armistice.’
Over the past few years, village halls across the country have spent money on substantial projects funded by grants. In Nottinghamshire, where the new scheme is being launched, Oxton Village Hall has refurbished the kitchen and toilets, and installed double glazing throughout the hall, while East Bridgford Village Hall has invested in a new heating system and installed energy efficiency lighting. The new funding will cover 20% of the total costs of a project. The remaining funding comes from a combination of charity reserves, fundraising, local authority funding and other grants such as the National Lottery Community Fund.
The application must be a village hall or similar rural community building and a registered charity. New build projects will not be eligible to apply to the fund due to their high costs and long timescales. Applications will be assessed by a panel including Defra officials and Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) staff with extensive experience of halls and grant schemes. The grant funding will be managed by ACRE on behalf of Defra and advice and support to potential applicants will be provided through the ACRE network. Applicants can apply for grants by following this link.