Staffordshire’s 180 Village Halls Encouraged to ‘Go Green’

Rural community buildings across the county considered how they can save energy and work with groups in their community to contribute to Net Zero as part of a national campaign led by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).

Run almost entirely by volunteers, village halls are a cornerstone of rural community life in Staffordshire providing what are often the only spaces where people can meet and socialise locally. They also sustain many livelihoods connected with use of the venue.

But over the past couple of years many halls have struggled to meet increasing energy bills – indeed many buildings are old, off the gas grid and difficult to heat. 

Campaign organisers, including local charity Support Staffordshire believe there is great potential to connect these concerns with broader action to address the climate emergency.

Village Halls Week 2024 is a call to action with management committees being encouraged to consider how they can ‘go green!’ – to safeguard their own future, and that of the wider environment.

A livestream was launched for the publication of a new design guide produced by Stagg Architects which offers practical advice on retrofitting halls to reduce energy consumption and dependency on fossil fuels. It features the efforts of six pioneering halls who had done just that – improving insulation, replacing heating systems and even generating their own electricity. It is hoped that with the recent £5m uplift in grant funding announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget will help many more communities undertake such works.

The campaign also encouraged village halls to work with and provide a space for environmentally minded groups and initiatives – from repair clubs, conservation volunteers to refill stations.

Village halls across Staffordshire were expected to host open days and events to mark their involvement in the campaign, to showcase the work they do, and the value they bring to the local community. Halls took part in the national campaign week, in a range of ways including a special ‘Farm Boy’ theatre tour from Lichfield Garrick Theatre:

Jill Norman, from Support Staffordshire said: There are over 180 village halls in Staffordshire and they play such a vital role as community hubs. The Village Halls Week was an opportunity to celebrate and value what they do. It was a chance to take part in activities and maybe even to think about joining in more often, perhaps helping out on the organizing side, as volunteers are always needed.

Support Staffordshire provides support and advice to village halls across Staffordshire, including expert support and development advice on all aspects of running an effective organisation such as funding, charity governance, legislation, and licensing. During Village Halls Week 2024, Support Staffordshire’s Rural Officers visited some village halls to hear their stories.

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