We often take the humble village hall for granted. They are the heart of rural life for many villages across the country and provide a lifeline for the local community.
Acting as ‘community hubs’, village halls up and down the UK serve as meeting places – where friendships are formed and strengthened. Where stories are read, plays performed, music heard, cakes baked and dances danced. As we know, social interactions traditionally took place in the village pub, the post office or in the local shop. But many villages have lost those ameneties along with reduced public transport. Village halls serve to fill that gap.
The 10,000 or so village halls in England often provide the only place to meet within a rural community, particularly for those least able to travel to more distant centres of activity.
The Campaign to End Loneliness warns that loneliness can directly impact people’s health: “Lacking social connections is a comparable risk factor for early death as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, and is worse for us than well-known risk factors such as obesity and physical inactivity.”
Our Patron, HRH The Princess Royal, recently visited Warehorne Village Hall in Kent to open our new affordable homes. As with many halls, it provides a warm welcome to the local community and is well equipped to meet local needs – hopefully for a long time to come.
Village halls are often very accessible to local residents and have few significant physical barriers preventing use. They are usually open to everyone. It has been estimated that there are 10,000 village halls in England and Wales with a value of more than £3bn, making it the largest network of community-owned facilities in rural Britain – something to think about.
Village halls are much more than a building – they are a rural way of life.