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Hanworth Memorial Hall - and keeping your eggs in separate baskets…

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At CAN we help and support a great many community projects to find the funding they need to make their vision a reality. Finding the right funder can be a minefield, and a complex process that takes time and commitment.  

At Hanworth, the community saw a need and set about meeting it. It’s a great example of not putting all their financial eggs in one basket… 

Hanworth Memorial Hall is technically not a village hall. Built as a school in 1852, it served its original purpose for nearly six decades, and after the First World War was registered as a War Memorial. As with many community buildings, the fabric of the building had decayed to a critical extent. In early 2017 someone decided to do something about it. 

A detailed report from a heritage surveyor showed that refurbishment needed was extensive – with a collapsed floor in the kitchen, mould and damp, and the south end gable wall in imminent danger of collapse, and would cost around £350,000 to put right. 

Finding the funding 

The project team approached CAN, and our Development Officers Clare Fiander and Tracey Allan helped in getting a £15,000 grant from ACRE’s Village Hall Improvement Grant, along with advice about other funding sources which proved fruitful. 

Locally, North Norfolk District Council awarded £10,000 from its Communities Fund and gave advice, support and encouragement. A local benefactor gave £10,000. LEADER, as part of its Rural Development Programme, funded £35,000 to repair the structure and £24,000 for drainage works. The War Memorials Trust proved to be sufficiently impressed that a maximum £5,000 grant materialised as £25,000.  Bernard Sunley gave the project a real financial boost, and the East of England Co-op stepped in when funds were low.

Tony Hadlow, Hanworth resident and project organiser, takes up the story. 

“You have to be prepared to take some knocks – some potential funders can’t or won’t help, occasionally the ones you might think would. Others come forward as a welcome surprise, but you still have to submit good applications. The thing is not to be despondent, but to keep spreading the net.”   

Fundraising 

“By the start of 2020, we knew the scale of the problem” explains Tony. “We set about raising funds to generate our own income as well as looking for external funders. The Commons Committee raised £20,000. A series of events such as ‘Cake on the Common’ and ‘Carols on the Common’ brought money in (there’s a theme there!).  We got ten people to run 10km and commit to raise £100 each – and it raised £3,000. Everybody has piled in - a real community effort.  We have probably £50-60,000 yet to raise, with more funding searching to do. But sponsorship and gift aid are key elements in bringing the money in.” 

Essentially, £160,000 has come from the local community – and there are just 160 people in Hanworth!_ 

Eggs in different baskets

And therein lies some good advice.  

First, it’s always good to have a variety, a range of different funding streams and sources, rather than putting all your financial eggs in one basket. Reliance on one funder can result in problems.; if, for example, it’s a one-off grant and eventually fails to meet the final cost of the project, or if the grant has conditions attached which are subsequently unable to be met in full. A good comparison is being offered a 100% mortgage on your home – if you can put down a deposit your dependency on one source is reduced. 

Secondly, a good question to ask is: What can we do that has little cost to ourselves but produces a good result?  Fundraising doesn’t necessarily have to stop because of Covid-19. Fun runs, quizzes and cake bakes can all take place, and they all raise money.  Trustees managing activities need to understand parameters and safeguards, and it’s worth checking the Code of Fundraising Good Practice

So funding from different external sources, plus local fundraising, has proved a heady combination. As Tony says ‘”it pays to think outside the box.” 

Getting the builders in 

“Because of the historic nature of the Memorial Hall we needed heritage accredited builders. None seemed available or willing to take on the work until I became aware of R J Bacon located just 1.5 km away in the next village!” says Tony. 

Multi-award winners for historic renovation projects, R J Bacon, agreed to take on Hanworth’s Memorial Hall Builders as a community project on a no-profit basis. 

“They have been absolutely brilliant. Their attention to detail is amazing, with the emphasis on conservation and in-keeping throughout; proper artisan windows - but thermal and double-glazed, and hand-made roof ridge coping stones.  All the underpinning is done, the porch has been rebuilt, the roof removed, most of the roof timbers replaced and tie bars fitted to stop the walls spreading.” 

The end in sight 

“We hope to complete the project for a grand re-opening on May bank Holiday 2021” says Tony.  

The project will have taken thousands of hours of time commitment and hard work by many people. It’s also contributed to engagement within the community; people have got to know each other better or even meet for the first time, creating a sense of community wellbeing that adds a little ‘social prescribing’ into the mix, and makes for a sustainable community. 

Hanworth Memorial Hall’s Facebook page is well worth a visit, showing well the chronology of the project. 

Further advice and information

If you need funding advice for your community project, contact our Community Development team on 01362 698216 or email office@communityactionnorfolk.org.uk

This is part of a series of examples of the huge contribution made by local VCSE organisations and groups during, and in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. To understand more about the pivotal role played by Voluntary Community and Social Enterprise organisations in Norfolk’s Covid-19 response effort please read our Norfolk VCSE Covid-19 Story page.