I'm saving my village hall with the help of guiding
Alice, 15, is on a mission to save her local village hall. She shares how Girlguiding's Action for Change programme is helping her (and what you can do in your area too).
Village halls - the unsung heroes of our community
Social isolation - the problem plaguing many rural communities across the nation. People don’t know their neighbours and community halls are abandoned. Two years ago my local village hall saw a vast decrease in funding. It came close to closing and that had a knock on effect in the community, in that time I didn't talk to my neighbour for a year due to the lack of events where this could happen.
This is something I’ve been wanting to change. So I leapt at the chance of getting involved in Action for Change in the North East. The chance to help open the doors of my local village hall and help decrease social isolation in my community.
Action for Change - Girlguiding's programme that gives girls the tools to take action on issues that they care about - has provided me with the skills to help save my local village hall from closure, from the community events I have run to contacting my local MP. I am now campaigning for increased funding for village halls as without funding these halls and centres can’t stay open, widening the gap in our communities.
How I'm fighting village hall closures
Tackling isolation and raising funds with community events
Lots of people in rural areas face social exclusion - 34% of the rural population aged over 52 (Rural England). The lack of community events means that people don’t get to spend cherished time with their neighbours. So this is where I come in, after seeing this problem first hand in my rural community I decided to take the first steps in my Action for Change project. I decided to host a community event so that people could socialise with their neighbour’s but also raise money for the nearly closing village hall.
In January 2018 I hosted my first beetle drive this saw local people coming out of their houses to play a game of beetle. The constant rotations and competitive nature of the game meant that people from around my community came together and got to know their neighbours and also spend time in the village hall.
Securing MP support
In November 2017 I contacted my local MP Helen Goodman and asked her for help with my project, she was happy to support me and gave me a list of funding resources. She has also promised to help me raise this issue in parliament, this will hopefully get the attention of those with power and hence find a solution to the problem that sees hundreds of centres and halls close each year.
Village hall association
In May, following the Action for Change inspiration weekend (a residential event that kick starts the year of action for change ) I joined my local village hall association. This provided me with inside information on the working of village halls but also gave me a direct outlet to explore my ideas and let me have direct influence in the future of my village hall.
What you can do
By providing funds to halls and centres, we can all as a collective bring together our communities and keep our halls and centres open. Whether that’s by joining your village hall association or running a fundraising event for your local community centre, we can all make a change to help the community and decrease social isolation in your area.
Alice is a young leader at 1st Upper Teesdale Brownies and a Ranger at 1st Barnard Castle Division Rangers.