Buckinghamshire Community Buildings

Community buildings and village halls are very often at the heart of rural communities, providing essential services and activities to the local area. As the Rural Community Council for Buckinghamshire and member of Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE), we offer a Community Buildings Service providing light touch advice and information to community building management committees. See below for more details.

Important COVID-19 information

UPDATE: Advice for keeping village halls safe during 2021 Winter

Over the summer months, village halls have reopened for the enjoyment of their local community. However, 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 ACRE  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.

COMMUNITY BUILDINGS SERVICE 2021-2022

Community Impact Bucks is the Rural Community Council for Buckinghamshire. We recognise that a community building or village hall can be the most valuable asset of any community and can provide facilities for social, educational and recreational activities for people of all ages.

At Community Impact Bucks, we provide a subscription service for Management Committees across Buckinghamshire.

Subscriber benefits include:

  • Automatically receiving updates on the latest COVID guidance for community buildings as soon as it is made available by our umbrella organisation Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE)
  • All new subscribers receive a “Village Hall Management Healthcheck” document. This checklist highlights the legal requirements and good practice for your village hall (excluding COVID measures), from managing the premises, to managing a charity, staff, volunteers, and finances
  • Zoom Meetings: providing light touch advice and information, and an opportunity to meet other community building representatives and share knowledge and experiences
  • We offer a ‘light touch’ advice and information service including one to one telephone and email support on a range of issues including: insurance, building work, employment, health and safety, governance, constitutions, and volunteers. We are very lucky to have available the services of a specialist volunteer who can provide up to 4 hours support and advice for more complex issues on a case-by-case basis
  • Free access to 42 National Village Hall information sheets from ACRE (normally £10 each) and model documents. See our website for the full list or we can email it to you
  • Membership of the National Village & Community Halls Network – providing a route for management committees to lobby and influence relevant government policy and legislation
  • A free Rural Community Profile – rich, quantitative data for your area, to help you decide on activities that will help your community building serve the needs of your local community
  • 10% discount on Community Impact Bucks workshops and training courses.

The subscription fee is £60 for the year from 1 April 2021 – 31 March 2022.

To find out more and to subscribe, please complete and return the Community Buildings information & subscription form 2021-22  (Word document download) or email: frankie@communityimpactbucks.org.uk

Specialist resources for Community Buildings

Would you like guidance on how to plan an extension or refurbish your hall? Do you need to review your health and safety procedures? Or are you keen to ensure your committee members know exactly what their roles and responsibilities are?

We provide information sheets and model documents for village halls, community centres, and other community buildings covering these issues.

Information Sheets –  A full list of the available information sheets can be viewed at the link below.

ACRE Publication Order Form Sept 2021

These are free to all Community Building Subscribers by email.  A copy can be requested by emailing frankie@communityimpactbucks.org.uk

Model documents – These documents are produced with expert input from solicitors specialising in charity law.

  • Model hiring agreement
  • Occupational licence (including a version to use with pre-schools)
  • Lease of land and trust deed
  • Transfer of freehold land and trust deed
  • Charitable Incorporated Organisation model constitution for a village hall (with template lease or land transfer document)
  • Articles of Association for a village hall

These are free to all Community Building Subscribers by email. A copy can be requested by emailing frankie@communityimpactbucks.org.uk

Funding

We can help with finding grants and other funding opportunities to enable you to maintain and improve your community hall or centre:

Buckinghamshire Council Community Board Funding

Details can be found on the webpage. Before making an application, it is important that you discuss your applications with your Community Board Coordinator to make sure your application would be eligible and that there are sufficient funds available.

Milton Keynes 

Government grants information for community buildings in Milton Keynes can be found on the Milton Keynes Council webpages and here.

Milton Keynes Community Foundation – Strategic Recovery 

Since the beginning of the COVID19 pandemic MK Community Foundation launched an emergency appeal to support the local Voluntary, Community and Cultural sector (VCCS) to respond and support the most vulnerable people in our society especially those adversely effected by the virus. During the emergency phase of the grant programme, the Community Foundation has supported grants to the value of over £1,000,000.

It is now essential that MK Community Foundation provides sustainable funding through the COVID-19 MK Recovery Fund to support the future sustainability of organisations and adapting to new ways of providing services.  See the MK Community Foundation webpage for more information.

A further list of grants for the Milton Keynes area can be found on the Community Action MK webpage.

SAFEGUARDING

It’s sometimes said that village hall charities don’t have much responsibility for ensuring people using the venue are safe from harm, because that’s up to the organisers of all the different activities that take place in halls.  Obviously, it’s true that hirers have a key role in ensuring (as best they can) the safety and well-being of their participants, but the village hall committee has an important role too.

Guidance documents and information – ACRE, our national partner charity, recently revised their safeguarding guidance booklet and model policy, as part of a project funded by the National Lottery Community Fund.  This booklet is part of a library of resources available to community buildings in Buckinghamshire.  Please email us to receive the booklet and see below for details of the other information we have.

Training opportunities and local contacts

  • NSPCC – training and resources for those working with children (i.e. under-18s)
  • Ann Craft Trust – safeguarding adults courses

Reporting concerns – Buckinghamshire organisations should report any concerns about the welfare of a child or adult on 01296 387146 or to the Police if someone is in imminent danger.

Specific links for children and adults are below:

More information can be found on our safeguarding webpage.

Training & Networking for Community Buildings

Facebook Group – We provide an online discussion forum on Facebook for members to ask each other questions and share ideas and experiences.  Email frankie@communityimpactbucks.org.uk if you’d like to join the closed group.

Community Buildings Zoom Sessions – We run regular online events where you can meet and share ideas with other people running community halls and centres.

We will be holding the next Community Buildings Zoom Session in January unless there are any significant change to the current situation.   Further information on the session will be added to the website near the time.

For future sessions we would like to focus on key topics of interest.  Please can you let us know what topics you would like to see covered at future sessions?  Please email your suggestions to Frankie@communityimpactbucks.org.uk

Training – For training opportunities please visit our events page.

VILLAGE HALLS WEEK 2021

Village Halls Week 2021: 25 January – 29 January 2021 – Celebrating 100 Years Together

Village Halls Week is a national celebration of village halls, their volunteers, and the services they offer in their communities.

This last year has brought difficulty to everyone. We have seen rural communities pull through and support one another in every way they can, both online and in supporting neighbours as safely as possible.

This year, the spotlight for Village Hall Week 2021 was on how village halls have been key in supporting their communities both during the pandemic but also in previous times of struggle. We know that the volunteers who run these buildings have devoted an enormous amount of time and energy so that wherever possible they can continue offering a safe space for community activities when they are needed most. Take a look at our short video highlighting these amazing efforts 👇

Even though the week has ended, you can still get involved by signing ACRE’s Domesday Book, telling ACRE about the activities and events you host and the difference it has made to people in your community.

For more information about the online events that ACRE held over the course of the week on the ACRE webpage.

Listen to our Chief Executive Katie Higginson and Karen Dickson from Chalfont St Peter Community Centre on Bucks Breakfast talking about #VillageHallsWeek and how important community buildings are to local communities by clicking on this link.

VILLAGE HALLS WEEK 2022

SAVE THE DATE – Village Halls Week, 24th January – 30th January 2022

Village Halls Week will run from Monday 24th January to Sunday 30th January 2022. The campaign is an annual and national celebration of rural community spaces and the people whose time and dedication keep them going. Organised by the ACRE Network, the campaign runs in January and sees a huge variety of events happening across England.

Further information will be available on our website nearer the time.

Image courtesy of St Francis's Children Society