Community Buildings Advice

A community building – a village hall, community centre or church hall, for instance – is one of the most valuable assets in any community, both in terms of its capital value and in the sense of the facilities and activities it provides for local residents.

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Cheshire has around 300 community buildings, most of which are charities run by dedicated volunteer trustees.

These buildings are becoming increasingly important for maintaining the health and wellbeing of our local communities, especially given our ageing population, declining rural services and increasing levels of social isolation. They also contribute significantly to the rural economy, supporting local businesses and in some cases, offering local employment opportunities. Some of our village halls double up as a local cinema, post office, sports hall and pub. Some even offer beautiful wedding venues!

However, managing these buildings can be challenging for their management committees in terms of the costs involved and legislation which must be complied with. Buildings must meet fire regulations and health and safety requirements and they must have the correct licences and safeguarding procedures in place. Key running costs such as energy and insurance can take up significant levels of income, often leaving very little funding for improvements or major repairs. Many halls depend on fundraising, grants and parish council support just to keep their doors open.

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Supporting community buildings across Cheshire has been a key service offered by Cheshire Community Action for many years. 

We are here to support management committees in tackling these issues by providing practical help and up-to-date guidance on all aspects of running a community building. 

We can provide committees with a wide range of templates such as model hire agreements and governing documents, together with over 40 information sheets on topics such health and safety, storage, licensing, accessibility, VAT and employment law. We also run training courses, hold several network events a year (with presentations on topical issues and opportunities to liaise with fellow members across the county) and share up-to-date information and guidance in our regular newsletter for our members. 

In addition, we can visit your hall to carry out a ‘health check’ which looks at your governance and finances as well as all the legal requirements for the management of your building.

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When it comes to major refurbishment or rebuilding a hall, external grant funding is almost always required.

We can assist with locating and applying for funding and in the last few years, we’ve helped to raise nearly £1million in grants for building enhancements.

Our service is backed-up by a wide support network, including our umbrella organisation, ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England), and nearly forty village hall advisors across England – so if we don’t know the answer to a question, we should be able to find someone who does!

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Hallmark Quality Standard

The Hallmark Scheme is a quality standard offered to village halls that was launched by ACRE in 2007. It gives halls a framework to help them assess how to improve the management of their buildings and offers recognition to those doing a great job. It is carried out by trained peer visitors or by our buildings advisor using a checklist to identify areas that are run well and areas that need improvement.

For more information about becoming Hallmark Quality Standard accredited, get in touch!

Phone: 01244 400222

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