Information to help village halls reopen updated from Action with Communities in Rural England

by Phillip Vincent, ACRE

National charity, Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) has published updated information to help village halls reopen in light of new government guidance.

Since 4 July, England’s 10,000+ village halls have been allowed to reopen. But government rules on social distancing, as well as the activities that are permitted to take place in these community buildings are complicated and frequently changing.

Many village halls are run by local volunteers, most of whom are not familiar with interpreting complex legal guidance. Thankfully, help has been on hand from a network of county-based village halls advisers, including our CBAS Advisor Kate, who have been able to explain the new rules using information sheets prepared by ACRE.

The charity first published information to help village halls reopen in June and was met with an overwhelmingly appreciative response. However, at the time it was not clear what sports and performances would be allowed by the government, as well as requirements relating to the numbers of people that could gather in these premises. ACRE sought clarity on many of the questions raised by village halls committees with government officials.

Version 4 of the Re-opening Information Sheet for Village Halls has been issued 20.07.20, to reflect the Government information at 20th July and anticipates changes at 25th July and 1st August. The changes mainly reflect the Government guidance around the opening of performance and sport venues, which are reflected in revision of Appendix D (Management of Social Distancing – a risk based Approach) and new appendices J and K, which summarise key points as they are most likely to affect village halls and similar facilities, such as allowing yoga, keep fit, rehearsals and live performances.

Social distancing has been a common cause of confusion and updated Government guidance for individuals was released on 18th July, including specific guidance that seated wedding receptions for up to 30 are permitted from 1st August. Further guidance about social distancing is given at the end of Appendix D, rather than in Section 2.2, and we hope this clarifies where responsibility lies. There are consequential tweaks to the Special Conditions of Hire (i.e. to the reference on social distancing, to remove the ban on performances, add an optional condition on compliance with any governing sport guidance). Other changes to Appendix D answer common queries e.g. about hiring for children’s parties, children’s entertainers, toddler groups, games. ACRE’s aim is that as further easing of lockdown takes place further changes to the Information Sheet are likely to primarily be in Appendix D, which should be easier for everyone to keep up with.

Download the guidance

Information Sheet – Re-opening Village and Community Halls post COVID-19 closure Updated 20.07.20

Sample COVID-19 Risk Assessment for re-opening Village and Community Halls Updated 20.07.20

Sample Risk Assessment for Hirers Updated 20.07.20

Brand new headsets available

CCB have 29 of these headsets available. They are brand new, still in packaging. Great for working from home or taking part in online training. We would like to get rid of in bulk and suggest a donation of £60 for our charity Connecting Communites in Berkshire in return for them all. Collection from Swallowfield, Berkshire. Please contact if interested.

Kooth: new online counselling service for young people in Berkshire West area

Berkshire West CCG, Wokingham LA, West Berkshire LA and Brighter Futures for Children have jointly commissioned the online counselling service Kooth, a service delivered by XenZone. Kooth will now be an integral component of Berkshire West’s mental health provision offering digital counselling and emotional wellbeing service for young people and young adults.

For a brief video giving an overview of Kooth please click here: Kooth Video
Kooth is a free online counselling and emotional wellbeing support service providing young people aged 11-18 years (up to their 19th birthday) in Berkshire West with a safe and secure means of accessing support with their emotional health and wellbeing needs from a professional team of qualified counsellors.

Kooth is a well-established, award winning online counselling service and is accredited by The British Association of Psychotherapy and Counselling (BACP). Founded in 2001, they are leading pioneers of online counselling in the UK, having won a number of prestigious awards.

Kooth has no referrals, thresholds or waiting lists. Young people can access this service anonymously by signing onto the Kooth site. Kooth provides unique out of office hours’ provision and is open 7 days per week, 365 days a year from noon until 10pm weekdays and from 6pm until 10pm on Saturday and Sundays. Kooth provides added value with moderated, scheduled forums and self-help articles (many written by service users) to provide peer led and self-help support.

Kooth helps to reduce waiting times for young people seeking help, removes stigma around mental health and accessing services. Kooth integrates with face-to-face local services to ensure a seamless transition for young people.

Kooth’s team of qualified counsellors, therapists and support workers provide guided, outcome-focused help for each individual. Kooth take safeguarding and clinical governance extremely seriously. The safety and well-being of all Kooth users is an upmost priority.

New item from Reading Voluntary Action & NHS Berkshire West CCG

Supporting the Community Transport Sector: CTA’s Next Steps

The Community Transport Association (CTA) has developed detailed guidance on how to restart and sustain your community transport services as lockdown measures ease.
    This guidance includes:
     •    Social distancing
     •    PPE and face coverings
     •    Comprehensive risk assessments
     •    Training
     •    Looking after staff, volunteers & passengers
     •    Your vehicles
     •    Car schemes 
     Click here to see the information

Violence Reduction Mentoring

In 2018 the Government published its Serious Violence Strategy
& in 2019 funding was provided to police forces to assist them
in developing their local response to the increase in violent crime.
In support of this strategy, Thames Valley Police have recently provided funding to the Thames Valley Partnership to enable them to expand their existing mentoring programme, New Leaf, so as be able to offer mentoring support to young people and adults that are at risk of exclusion and /or currently within the criminal justice system.

Collaborative Approaches to Preventing Offending and Reoffending by Children (CAPRICORN) published in August 2019 indicates that mentoring can be an effective way to engage with a young person who is at risk of

Mentoring is particularly helpful when a young person does not have a positive role model within their family or support network, where they are socially isolated, have low self-esteem and they struggle to form and maintaining healthy relationships. Starting Point are working with the Thames Valley.

Partnership in providing mentoring for young people:
Any agency that wishes to make a referral should use the New Leaf for Young People referral form:

Article courtesy from Wokingham InVOLve