Training for North Yorkshire village halls to become “community hubs”

The Yorkshire Post is campaigning to ease the burdon of loneliness
The Yorkshire Post is campaigning to ease the burdon of loneliness
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Volunteers and community leaders can discover how to turn rural buildings into community hubs to help the most lonely and isolated in their areas at an event this month.

Rural Action Yorkshire (RAY) will host the session at Kirkby Fleetham Village Hall, which is undergoing an extensive refurbishment and extension project to enable it to provide more community services, on Saturday February 21.

Representatives and volunteers from community buildings in Scarborough, Harrogate, Ryedale, Richmondshire, Whitby and northern Hambleton are being encouraged to share their ideas and experiences with others, and learn more about making their environment more welcoming and accessible to all.

RAY’s Community Friendly Buildings, which is funded by North Yorkshire County Council’s £1m Innovation Fund and clinical commissioning groups in Hambleton, Richmondshire and Whitby, encourages rural buildings to develop new activities and reach more vulnerable members of society who may be at risk of loneliness and isolation.

Project co-ordinator James Russell said: “Community buildings, especially in rural areas, are a great place to address issues such as isolation, loneliness and poverty. They are a first point of call for weekly social interaction to many living in rural areas across North Yorkshire.

“However, many community buildings are not used to their full potential. We want to help those who manage community buildings to make full use of their asset by organising their own activities and projects, not just hiring out the building to other users.”

The event will include workshops on topics such as understanding how community buildings can become more accessible to those with dementia, the sorts of events that community buildings can organise themselves, and potential sources of funding.

Mr Russell added: “We are bowled over every day by the commitment of people living in rural areas to their village halls and local activities. If we can help in any way to support halls, and encourage them to support each other, we can help make rural communities even better places to live.”