Community Buildings adviser off to national event

  |  Published: May 6th 2015
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The dedicated band of specialist advisers who support England’s 10,000 rural village halls and community buildings are holding their annual training event in Stratford-Upon-Avon this month.

The two-day event, from May 12-13, brings together village hall advisers from 36 counties from Cornwall to Cumbria to share their knowledge and best practice.

On the agenda for the 41 delegates - including Ian Hopper and Ali Curson of Community Impact Bucks - will be issues that help to keep village halls at the heart of rural communities - from funding and investment to energy and employment.

Speakers at the Holiday Inn will include representatives of the Big Lottery Fund, the Centre for Sustainable Energy, Revenue & Customs, Locality and the Yorkshire Association of Local Councils. Solicitor Jonathan Dawson will be holding advice surgeries and there will also be a session with the Charity Commission.

The event is organised by village hall advisers from across the West Midlands with the support of ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England). ACRE is the national voice for the Network of 38 rural community councils that employ advisers to support the 80,000 volunteers who manage rural community buildings.

It is the first visit to Stratford-Upon-Avon for the event, which moves around the country and is now celebrating its 16th year.

Ian Hopper, Community Buildings Adviser for Buckinghamshire, said: “Village halls and other community buildings are hugely valued by their communities, playing a multi-purpose role, serving as a social centre, arts centre, sports centre and in some cases providing education, health or retail services. Community Impact Bucks are continually seeking ways to help communities make the most of their village assets.

“The volunteers who manage them need specialist support, which demands time, expertise and money. The ACRE Network of advisers are working hard to maintain this service against a backdrop of rapidly reducing funding for professional support organisations.

 “The annual training event is a great opportunity for advisers to get together and share ideas about how to help village halls survive and thrive.”

Insurance giant Aon UK Limited has supported the event since 2000.  Dean Waddingham, Strategic Relationships Director at Aon Risk Solutions, said: “Aon are delighted to continue our long-standing support for the village hall advisers’ training event.

“The role of advisers are clearly important in supporting community buildings being well managed, including the mitigation of risks which can, in the worst scenario, threaten viability.”

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