Village Halls Week 2024: Embracing Sustainability

From coffee mornings to Zumba classes, from playgroups to fetes and pantomimes, community centres and village halls are home to an ever-growing list of activities. Here at WRS Insurance Brokers, we’ve been helping source the right insurance for community centres and village halls for over 40 years.

As Village Halls Week approaches its seventh consecutive year from 18th -24th March, we’re exploring this year’s theme of ‘Going Green’.

Phillip Vincent, the Public Affairs and Communications Manager at ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England), shares insights on the upcoming event’s focus on environmental consciousness and the journey towards village halls achieving Net Zero status.

Rural communities are often overlooked in larger environmental discussions; however, they can possess a significant potential to lead the charge towards Net Zero. This entails embracing sustainable agriculture practices, harnessing renewable energy sources, refurbishing older structures for energy efficiency, and leveraging digital technology to minimise travel.

Village halls and Parish Councils serve as vital hubs within rural England, offering a large of services and activities to their local communities. They often serve as shelters during extreme weather events and, as recent events have shown, can be catalysts for community-driven initiatives.

Surprisingly, village halls are well-positioned to spearhead environmental action. Village Halls Week 2024 aims to explore this potential, showcasing existing initiatives for inspiration and facilitating discussions on locally adaptable strategies.

One highlight of this year’s campaign is the launch of a Net Zero Design Guide for Village & Community Halls, developed by Stagg Architects in collaboration with ACRE.

Many village halls, being historic structures, are not connected to the gas grid and face challenges with energy costs. Some have seen their heating expenses skyrocket, consuming a significant portion of their budget.

Therefore, a starting point for village hall groups interested in sustainable practices is to focus on reducing energy consumption and associated costs through building improvements.

ACRE will be releasing a Net Zero Design Guide which will be unveiled via livestream and features case studies from halls in Cumbria, Lancashire, Buckinghamshire, Dorset, and Somerset. These halls have implemented various measures such as insulation upgrades, heating system enhancements, and even self-generated energy. Their experiences offer valuable insights into project planning, community engagement, fundraising, and collaboration with technical experts and contractors.

During Village Halls Week 2024, each day will focus on a specific aspect of embracing sustainability:

  • Monday: Improve the energy efficiency of your building
  • Tuesday: Encourage behaviour change (e.g., reduce, reuse, recycle)
  • Wednesday: Provide a space for groups concerned with the environment (e.g., repair clubs, warm hubs, library of things, youth climate forums, community fridges, conservation volunteers, refill stations…)
  • Thursday: Make your community greener (e.g., community food growing, bug hotels, wildflower meadows, hedgehog highways…)
  • Friday: Celebrate success if you’re going green! (an opportunity to recognise the hard work of volunteers)

At WRS Insurance Brokers, we are specialists in Community Centre & Village Hall Insurance Insurance and have been helping source the right insurance for community centres and village halls for over 40 years. Hundreds of village halls and community centres across the UK trust us to offer them the impartial advice they need.

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