Celebrating Village Halls Week in Devon with a first look at findings from Devon’s first ever Village Halls Audit

Published on 21st March 2024

Village Halls Week in Devon kicked off on Monday 18th March with an exclusive presentation of the findings of Devon’s first ever Village Halls Audit, at a special event at Silverton Community Hall.  

Independent charity Devon Communities Together has spent the past 18 months visiting 80% of Devon’s 440 village halls to conduct audits that gathered a range of information from the facilities on offer, digital connectivity, financial stability and much more. Not only has this initiative resulted in Devon Communities Together creating a first-of-its-kind interactive and comprehensive directory of halls across Devon, but it also provides evidence for future research and identifying what support is needed to maintain these vital community assets.  

Committee members and Trustees from Village Halls in Devon gathered at Silverton Community Hall, as well as online via Zoom, for a first chance to hear about the findings from the audit, drawn from the data gathered from 339 Devon Village Halls. Headlines included the fact that 36% of Devons Village Halls have no Broadband, 26% have no website and 46% rely on bookings for over half of their revenue, giving people plenty to talk about.  A report containing the full findings will be available soon on Devon Communities Together’s website.  

Attendees also got their first look at the new Devon Village Halls Asset map, created by Devon Communities Together, which allows users to locate halls and pinpoint certain characteristics and facilities. It’s fully searchable and allows anyone to find the best venue for them, whether they’re looking to host a celebration, arrange a meeting or conference, or run an activity for local people. A test version was shown to the audience and feedback was taken, with the Map due to be launched to the public later in the spring.  

Charlotte Squire, Project Manager at Devon Communities Together who has been overseeing audit and the creation of the new Asset Map, hosted the event; “As the rural community council for Devon we run a dedicated support service for Village Halls across Devon. It was great to be able to share our findings and understand common themes from people who are running these vital community spaces. We’d like to thank everyone from the 339 halls who took part in the audit and who gave feedback on our Asset Map. We’re working hard on the final few tweaks and will be officially launching it soon!” 

Village Halls Week is a national initiative from Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE). As the Rural Community Council for Devon, Devon Communities Together is a member of ACRE and had provided support for Village Halls in Devon for over 60 years. This year’s theme for the week is ‘Go Green’ and attendees of the launch event also listened to a livestreamed launch of a new Net Zero Design Guide for Village Halls from Stagg Architects, which is a simple, practical and helpful resource outlining the things hall management committees should consider when planning how to ‘go green’, as well as introducing the different technologies that can be used. The guide is available here: https://acre.org.uk/village-halls-net-zero-guide/ 

“It was great to hear all about the Net Zero Design Guide and look forward to supporting our local halls here in Devon to put it into practice,” added Charlotte. “I’d also like to thank Vanessa Davies from Devon County Council and Sophie Smith from Devon Community Foundation for being on hand to chat to our attendees about the grant funds available, as well as Harry Bonnell from Exeter Community Energy who had information on retrofitting opportunities to improve sustainability.” 

If you would like any information or wish to discover more about the Village Halls Audit or the Village Halls Asset Map, please contact Charlotte Squire on charlotte.squire@devoncommunities.org.uk