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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

This Village Halls Week, SCVO invite you to join us at the heart of the community


Ahead of a conference on village halls on Wednesday, 1 May Rachel Boyd outlines what they do and why they’re so important

Open the door to a local village hall any day of the week and you’ll find a range of activities happening; coffee mornings, after-school games clubs, knitting circles, tai chi, Highland dancing, toddler groups, ESOL classes, computer clubs, weddings, yoga, birthday parties.

On another day you’ll find the space used as a polling station, or responding as a resilience centre in the eye of a storm.  

You’ll find local people running these spaces, after work or alongside education or in their retirement, giving hours to the planning and maintenance and fundraising it requires.

Most of all you’ll find a welcoming space, often steeped in history, that is run by the community and for the community.  

We know the last few years have been tough, and that the challenges continue. Covid hit lots of halls and community spaces hard as they had to lock their doors, but still keep all the infrastructure maintained and keep rooms dry. In some areas, the return to in-person events and classes has been slow and continues to be. The cost of living crisis means that many of those same spaces are trying to work out how to provide vital services and opportunities to meet to their communities, alongside services like food banks and pantries, without passing on rising costs to the people using them.  

Yet village halls remain as key spaces for community life to happen, without being driven by profit, catering to rural and urban populations alike. 

This may sound like a romantic view of village halls (and they are often romantic, beautiful old stone buildings nestled in the mountains), but in the time I spent talking to people running village halls while creating our village and community halls handbook I heard stories of perseverance: of people wanting to protect their halls so they could survive well into the future; or spaces local councils were willing to give over to the weeds, rescued by hardy groups of people armed with brooms, scrubbing brushes and a fair whack of bunting.  

Of course, village and community halls face challenges - many of them - including: 

  • Getting new people involved to make sure the halls can keep running, 
  • finding funding that allows for refurbishment, growth, and development and working towards net zero, 
  • taking on the many tasks of day-to-day running, from electrical safety tests and maintaining the roof to thinking about health and safety 
  • and keeping a broad programme of activities, with enough of them making money to keep the hall afloat.  

We’ve given information that we think helps with some of that, and highlighted lots of organisations who can help too. And we’re part of a wider group of Scottish organisations who also see the value of the contributions of village and community halls to our lives, which includes Scottish Rural Network, Scottish Rural Action, Community Enterprise, Development Trusts Association Scotland, Social Enterprise Scotland and others.  We’re excited to continue supporting you if you’re one of the people running or using these spaces – which, given all the great stuff that goes on, you probably are.  

Click here to sign up for the event on 1 May 2024.

Rachel Boyd is content design manager for the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO).



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