Village halls provide community future - help from farming community needed

02 February 2022

North West

Community Futures Team: Left to right: Hannah Lightowler, Ruth Abram & Denise Partington

A community council which dates all the way back to 1937 and has a proven track record of helping the rural community of Lancashire has secured National Lottery funding to unlock the potential of our village halls.

Help was urgently required during and following the lockdowns to keep community buildings viable and their people safe from Covid-19.

Community Futures, based in Preston, were the organisation trustees of village halls turned to for that support.

CEO Denise Partington said: “We initially offered a lot of listening support and kept trustees on the straight and narrow by making them aware of their responsibilities, giving them practical advice about how to make their venues Covid secure.

“During this period, we collected a lot of vital data which has led to our next project which is called Connecting Communities in Lancashire.”

Project Outreach Officer Ruth Abram and Business Support Officer Hannah Lightowler were employed in October 2021 to lead Connecting Communities in Lancashire.

With 215 village halls and community buildings in the county, all with operating structures requiring hugely differing levels of support, the scope of the project is colossal.

“Community buildings and village halls are bouncing back following the pandemic, but some trustees and volunteers are still scared to go back,” said Ruth.

“Our objective is to engage with as many of these halls as we can. We want to create a peer support network and really hope our farming communities can assist us as well as use the facilities.

“I recently visited Trawden which has the only community shop in Lancashire. It’s doing exceptionally well and is combatting isolation in that particular area.

“Is there an opportunity for the farming community to supply produce to these halls? Is there anything we can do to attract groups such as the YFC to utilise these community buildings? We want to keep young people in our rural communities, so surely this would be beneficial.”

Denise added: “The land mass of Lancashire is 79% rural so a main part of Community Futures’ role is to respond to the rural community’s needs. We’ve done a lot in the past to assist with issues such as FMD and suicide prevention. I’m pleased that our Lottery Funding will allow us to do more into the future.”

If you’d like to find out more about Community Futures or would like to explore becoming involved with the Connecting Communities in Lancashire project, please contact Project Outreach Officer Ruth Abram on 01772 717461 or email [email protected]

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