Earlier this year, more than 2,000 village halls nationwide took part in the National Village Halls Survey 2020, which provides a detailed snapshot of the operations and management of community buildings across the country and is taken every 10 years. And an astonishing 60 per cent of respondents stated that their halls are the only meeting place for their community, with activities such as coffee mornings and luncheon clubs helping to address loneliness among vulnerable groups.
The survey results for 2020 clearly confirm village halls occupy a special place in the social fabric of local communities and make a significant contribution to the economy. At least 10,000 individuals earn a living connected to the use of these community buildings, from pilates and yoga teachers to people running dog training classes. A further 4,500 people are employed as cleaners, caretakers and managers, and nearly half of all halls serve as a venue for private parties, a quarter hosting weddings; all of these events providing commercial opportunities for local businesses.
One in 10 village halls across the country are also home to community businesses, enterprises owned and run by residents for local community benefit, such as shops, cafes, and post offices. In addition, 70 per cent of respondents had undertaken improvement work, such as extensions, or built new halls in the last five years, with local builders often used and more than £46 million added to the UK economy.
Village halls offer extensive social and cultural benefits as those living in rural areas are at heightened risk of social isolation, which can lead to poor health, loss of independence and lower quality of life, according to the Local Government Association.
As many as 94 per cent of respondents stated that volunteers play an important function in maintaining the buildings, carrying out small repairs, maintenance and checks.
Louise Currie, Village Halls Advisor at Community Action Northumberland, where there are 240 village halls said: "The National Village Halls Survey is a vitally important piece of research, helping to determine the way forward for village halls and the service offered to them. The survey demonstrated the significant value of village halls and the positive impact they have on people’s social and physical wellbeing, in addition to their substantial contribution to the economy."
Download the full report of the survey findings.