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Village halls are the lifeblood of the communities they serve, providing what is quite often the only place for people to meet and socialise. They make a significant contribution to sustaining local services too – the recent expansion of post office services in village halls is making a huge impact. Keeping halls going, adapting to community need and responding to change are not easy tasks for the people who govern, manage and maintain them – the vast majority of whom are unpaid community volunteers. Throughout the worst of the pandemic, volunteers have worked hard to ensure that their halls are protected and safe to reopen and we were pleased to lend our support through a 6 month National Lottery Community Fund COVID-19 Response project, which ended in December 2020. The project enabled us to reach more than 400 volunteers managing 80 village and community halls with information, advice and guidance. We trained 15 volunteers in trustee roles and responsibilities (through a course adapted for remote learning) and responded to over 220 telephone calls and e mails from community volunteers requesting help and advice.
Earlier this year, with the help and support of 10 village hall volunteers, we secured funding for a 2 year project to meet the ongoing needs of rural communities. We are therefore pleased to announce the launch of the Connecting Communities in Lancashire project, led by our newly recruited Project Outreach Officer Ruth Abram.
We are confident that the project will make a significant contribution to the sustainability of the village and community hall network, encouraging shared learning across rural Lancashire.