It’s national village hall week – and this year the emphasis is on village halls up and down the country being warm and welcoming places. After all, we need this right now! But our village halls can also be beacons of sustainable and low-impact living, if we let them.
So, let us celebrate the ways that village halls can encourage a low-impact lifestyle – and be sure to share your tips and successes in the comments.
Thinking about others…
Village halls are often focal points for group activities – from sharing a meal, organising group events or even lectures and demonstrations. Whilst encouraging a community feel, tackling loneliness and reaching out to many different aspects of a community, this also has the side effect of saving energy with heating and cooking. Developing a sense of belonging, shared enthusiasms and new hobbies. Village halls, when managed properly, can be open to the community and bring about a communal feel. A tip here? Regularly encourage open nights and events that allow everyone to be involved – gaining different opinions as to what the hall can be used for is key.
Hallbankgate Villlage Hall – named the Lacey Thompson Memorial Hall – is a thriving village hall in North Cumbria. Caretaker Lea-Anne explained to us how important it is to get the local community invovled
‘you don’t have to be a volunteer to get involved or to use the Hall, many people don’t realise that. But we’ve had so many events, from weddings to children’s activities, Parish Council meetings to regular exercise classes – it’s great to see’
Village halls are unique. They are meeting areas, and can be a focal point for inspirational activities and stories. Communities with focal points can share their stories and encourage change in others. It sounds simple, but if you don’t have a space that you can use then it can be difficult to share ideas and push community change forward. A tip here? Don’t be discouraged if your meetings and ideas don’t seem to grow as quickly as you would like. You just need to bring one person along with you!
Setting a sustainable example
Whilst there are no hard and fast rules for making a village hall more sustainable, (there are some links below with ideas and case studies) putting the time and effort into doing that can be an inspiration to the wider community. And there is no greater changemaker than watching others do that journey first! There are plenty of funds available for village halls who want to have a go at doing just that. The trick is not to forget to shout about it – hold open days, talk about the changes you have made and keep the process open so others can learn from your journey.
Tips for making your village hall a beacon of sustainability:
- Begin with an energy audit – local sustainability groups can usually help with this – look at doors, windows, airtightness, insulation and ventilation.
- Heating: at the very least it needs to be easy to control. Different groups, for obvious reasons, can need different temperatures.
- Simple fixes like draughtproofing can have a big impact over time. (Think letterboxes, pipes, windows etc)
- Looking for inspiration? There are plenty of ideas here (as well as case studies.)
- Another case study from a village hall that looked at renewable energy sources.
- We have an excellent introduction to retrofitting here that may give you some ideas.
We know that village halls are in a unique position to reach traditionally hard to reach communities and people – and so they can bring people together to talk about change, demonstrate ideas, tackle inertia and of course – be beacons of sustainable living!
Research tells us that if you want to bring about change you start by talking to those within your own sphere!
Please share your village halls success stories!
The views expressed in our blog are those of the author and not necessarily lowimpact.org's