Village Halls Week 2024 embraces a greener future with The Royal Countryside Fund’s support

March 22, 2024

This year’s Village Halls Week underscored the importance of sustainability and environmental stewardship, aptly themed ‘go green!’. The Royal Countryside Fund (RCF) is at the forefront of this transformative movement, emphasising its commitment to nurturing eco-friendly community spaces across the UK.

Since 2021, the RCF has been instrumental in bolstering the resilience and sustainability of village halls, having funded 11 remarkable projects with a total investment of £133,493. These initiatives range from infrastructural enhancements to fostering biodiversity, all aimed at reducing the environmental footprint of these essential community hubs.

A highlight among these is our work in Somerset last year, where the RCF funded a critical energy audit project managed by Smart Communities Ltd. This project delivered 12 energy audits across various community buildings, providing them with tailored advice on improving energy efficiency and implementing renewable energy solutions. These audits, accompanied by one-on-one support and a series of training events, have equipped community buildings with the knowledge and confidence to pursue sustainability goals.

The project ‘Connecting Communities in Berkshire’ has also been central to The Royal Countryside Fund’s efforts, focussing on critical areas such as digital connectivity, low carbon buildings, and biodiversity, setting a precedent for the future of village halls as vibrant, eco-conscious community centres.

The celebration of Village Halls Week 2024 comes at a pivotal moment when environmental concerns are increasingly influencing local community actions. The RCF’s targeted support for projects that elevate energy efficiency, sustainability, and community engagement marks a significant step towards a greener future.

As part of the development of the RCF’s new strategy, we are reshaping our grant programme and want to ensure that resources are optimally allocated in line with national funding priorities. The Government recently announced a new smaller grants element to the Platinum Jubilee Village Halls Fund and an additional £5 million support for village halls made by the Chancellor in the budget in March this year.

If you have a village hall with a small capital project, you could have 20% of the cost covered up to £5,000 through the ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) Village Halls small grants fund. Charitable organisations in England can also apply for a free Independent Energy Assessment, as part of the VCSE Energy Efficiency Scheme. The assessment provides a comprehensive evaluation of a building’s energy usage, efficiency and potential for energy saving. Following the assessment, an organisation may then apply to the scheme for a capital grant of up to £150,000 to install energy-saving measures. The RCF will be glad to guide future applicants for village hall projects towards these new funding opportunities.