Village Halls Week is a national celebration of the more than 10,000 village halls across England, the volunteers that run them and the difference they make to the rural communities they serve.
The initiative is led by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and supported by the 38 county-based rural development charities which make up the ACRE Network.
The campaign is now in its fourth year and will take place next week – 25 to 29 January 2021 – featuring online events, videos, podcasts and more, all showcasing the rich history of village halls and the benefits they provide for rural communities up and down the country.
Speaking about this year’s event, Deborah Clarke, ACRE’s Rural Evidence and Village Halls Manager said:
“The past year has been one of the most challenging periods for village halls on record. Many closed due to the government’s coronavirus restrictions, yet the volunteers who manage these buildings applied for emergency funding and put in place COVID-19 secure measures so they could carry on providing a safe space for their community when it was most needed.
“Village Halls Week 2021 is in many ways, a celebration of the fact these halls are true survivors!”
There are over 10,000 village and community halls in England, which are run by volunteers and support a wide range of community activities, from exercise classes to coffee mornings. Many also host community shops and post offices, while some are regularly hired out for private functions and weddings.
Last year ACRE ran a survey that found that 60% of village halls provide the only meeting space in the local community, with an estimated 50,000 individuals reliant on the use of village halls to make a living.
What to expect from Village Halls Week 2021
This year the celebrations will focus on how village halls are survivors. Many have been bringing people together in rural communities since the 1920s – hence this year’s title ‘Celebrating 100 Years Together’.
As social gatherings are currently not possible, Village Halls Week will look a bit different this year. During past events ACRE Network members have hosted events across the country, but due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the national lockdown, this year’s event will be strictly online only.
ACRE are encouraging all village halls to join in this national celebration by:
- Registering to take part in online events (visit https://acre.org.uk/ for more info)
- Following ACRE on social media (Twitter | Facebook)
- Signing ACRE’s Village Halls Centenary ‘Doomsday’ Book to tell MPs about the good work you’ve been doing
- Contacting your ACRE Network member to find out what’s going on locally and check this listing
Programme of events
Listen to opening speeches by Lord Gardiner, ACRE’s Executive Director Richard Quallington and their in-house expert Deborah Clarke, celebrating a century of village halls.
Share stories about your village hall, for example the activities and events you host and the difference it has made to people in your community.
Join an online event sponsored to find out how your village hall can recover from Covid-19.
Be a part of a conversation about what the future holds for village halls and join an online event sponsored by Utility Aid to find out how your village halls can contribute to a zero-carbon future.
Listen to a podcast with Louise Beaton OBE discussing the history of village halls. Louise is a special adviser to Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) and was recently recognised in the New Year’s Honours for her long-standing dedication to village and community halls.