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Lottery awards £1.5m to refurbish Village Halls across Northumberland, Cumbria and Durham

Rural communities in Northumberland, Cumbria and Durham have been awarded £1.5 million by The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest funder of community activity in the UK, to improve Village Halls and similar community spaces, making sure they are fit for a sustainable future.

The funding thanks to National Lottery players has been awarded to the Community Spaces Partnership made up of Community Action Northumberland (CAN), Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) and Durham Community Action (DCA). The three charities had successfully piloted working directly with Village Halls and communities across the three counties, and have been awarded £1,510,000 from The National Lottery Community Fund to now work together with rural communities and village halls across the region.

The announcement was made at a celebration event for national Village Halls Week in January at Northumberland’s newest village hall in Ellingham. Over 80 volunteers from Village Halls attended the annual event to celebrate the vital role they play in sustaining rural communities.

The partnership’s aim with the funding is to future-proof village halls and community spaces across rural Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria. This asset network is critical to how rural communities function and frequently are the only village venue where services can be provided, social interaction can take place and isolation be reduced.

In Northumberland, 18 months of feasibility work is about to end, preparing for the installation of sustainable energy sources, including battery storage at a wide range of village halls to help them achieve net zero, reduce energy costs and future-proof their function as Emergency Rest Centres in times of crisis.

CAN, ACT and DCA intend to embed this nationally-leading initiative across the three county areas and act as a model for potential roll-out to other parts of the country through their national network – Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE).

Andy Dean, Chief Executive at Community Action Northumberland said:
“We are over the moon to receive this funding from The National Lottery Community Fund which reflects genuine and effective partnership working across the most northerly rural areas in England. Thanks to National Lottery players, our project will provide a combination of the critical support needed by village halls, feasibility work and commissioned capital enhancements to ensure this critical asset network is sustainable for current and future generations to come. We can’t wait to get started.”

Duncan Nicholson, Regional Head of Funding for the North East at The National Lottery Community Fund:
“Thanks to National Lottery players we can continue to support rural communities through the maintenance of vital community spaces which bring people together. We know village halls and community hubs are pivotal to building connections and maintaining relationships in more isolated areas, and it’s great that local organisations such as Community Action Northumberland (CAN), Action with Communities in Cumbria (ACT) and Durham Community Action (DCA) will continue to deliver that vital support to help people thrive.