Norfolk's 450 village halls encouraged to ‘go green!’

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Rural community buildings across the county will be considering how they can save energy and work with groups in their community to contribute to Net Zero this week as part of a national campaign led by Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).

Run almost entirely by volunteers, village halls are a cornerstone of rural community life in Norfolk providing what are often the only spaces where people can meet and socialise locally. They also sustain many livelihoods connected with use of the venue.

But over the past couple of years many halls have struggled to meet increasing energy bills – indeed many buildings are old, off the gas grid and difficult to heat.

Campaign organisers, including Community Action Norfolk believe there is great potential to connect these concerns with broader action to address the climate emergency.

Village Halls Week 2024 is a call to action with management committees being encouraged to consider how they can ‘go green!’ – to safeguard their own future, and that of the wider environment.

On Monday, a livestream will launch the publication of a new design guide produced by stagg architects which offers practical advice on retrofitting halls to reduce energy consumption and dependency on fossil fuels. It features the efforts of six pioneering halls who have done just that – improving insulation, replacing heating systems and even generating their own electricity. It is hoped that with the recent £5m uplift in grant funding announced by the Chancellor in the Spring Budget will help many more communities undertake such works.

The campaign is also encouraging village halls to work with and provide a space for environmentally minded groups and initiatives – from repair clubs, conservation volunteers to refill stations.

Across England, over 250 village halls are expected to host open days and events to mark their involvement in the campaign, of which there are 16 in Norfolk. Many will be using this as an opportunity to engage local residents in their work and their plans for ‘going green’.

Community Action Norfolk is a member of the ACRE Network that provides support and advice to village halls groups locally.

Rik Martin, CEO said "we are very proud of the work we do to support Norfolk’s village halls and we are excited to be a part of Village Halls Week which provides an opportunity to showcase some fantastic halls, encourage collaboration and generally be inspired.  This is years theme of ‘Go Green’ is a timely one and we are committed to supporting Village Halls to do just that whether it is through direct interventions such as solar panels or new heating systems or by understanding how to be more sustainable and develop environmentally behaviours in the community. Not sure how to get involved? – get in touch!"