VILLAGE HALLS and community groups across Yorkshire can apply for funding as part of a new project aiming to reduce loneliness and isolation in rural areas.
The Community Friendly Buildings scheme will guide, support and encourage committees and volunteers to set up new activities in their venues, with an emphasis on reaching people who do not already take part, such as older or more vulnerable residents, in an attempt to reduce rates of rural isolation and invigorate community spirit.
The project is being funded by North Yorkshire County Council’s £1m Innovation Fund, and builds on work to turn rural venues such as village halls, centres, and churches into community hubs. Grants of up to £250 are available through York-based charity Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY), which is running the scheme.
Project co-ordinator at RAY, James Russell, said: “Village halls or churches are often the best way of reaching social groups that may be feeling cut off from the world around them, leaving people feeling lonely in their homes. This is exacerbated by living in a rural area. Having run community hubs in the past, we know the hard work and commitment that volunteers put into running their venues and maintaining their services. We have witnessed their full potential as places of great social interaction, and with these grants we want to be able to give something back at the same time as identifying the needs of the most vulnerable in our villages.”
RAY will help buildings to become more community-friendly through the use of grants as well as training, workshops and resources.
The Yorkshire Post is campaigning to raise awareness of the issue of loneliness, which takes its toll on more than 90,000 older people in the region. More information is at www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/loneliness