Community Buildings Advice
A community centre or village hall is one of the most valuable assets of any community, both in terms of its capital value and in the sense of the facilities and activities it provides for local residents.
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 obesity and 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 a local cinemas, post offices, sports halls and pubs – some even offer beautiful wedding venues!
However, managing these buildings can be hugely challenging for their volunteer trustees in terms of the costs involved and the sheer amount of 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 and parish council support just to keep their doors open.
Supporting community buildings across Cheshire has been a key service offered by Cheshire Community Action for many years. We are there to support volunteer trustees 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 as business planning, storage and energy efficiency. We also produce a quarterly newsletter and hold 4 network events a year with presentations on topical issues and opportunities to liaise with fellow members across the county.
When it comes to major refurbishment or rebuilding a hall, external grant funding is almost always required. We can assist volunteers 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!
Membership costs only £50 per year. By joining you will:
- Receive dedicated one-to-one support from a CCA officer
- Have unlimited access to a wide range of information sheets, model documents and toolkits
- Become a member of our community buildings network where you will receive regular updates, newsletters and invites to events as well as being able to liaise directly with other community building management committees. Around 60 halls have already signed up
- Receive information about the latest grant opportunities and get help filling out application forms
- Help CCA to remain as an impartial source of information, advice and professional support for parish councils, community buildings committees and other community organisations.
Our team of community development specialists at CCA can also give you advice about governance, project planning, community led planning and community consultation techniques.
So if you’re running a hall and need some support or you’re even thinking of building a new community building, we’d love to hear from you.
For a list of community buildings in Cheshire, please see our buildings directory here