The first national Village Halls Week, which started on Monday 22 January, was a celebration to champion the work that volunteers do to keep village halls, and other community buildings, open for the benefit of their local communities.
Leeds may have a thriving city centre full of busy shoppers by day, and revelling partygoers by night, but its boundaries also contain autonomous rural communities rich with the culture and traditions of village life. Because of transport and resource concentration these communities can sometimes under serve their more vulnerable members including socially isolated older adults.
Community First Yorkshire, Time to Shine delivery partner for the Leeds Community Connect project, are proud of our village halls and want as many people as possible to talk about these valuable assets. Their project works with older people in villages on the outskirts of Leeds to set up hubs of activity in central village locations.
Steered by local older people and supported by a team of volunteers, these Community Hubs offer a varied programme of activities where older people come together on a regular basis to socialise, learn and have fun. The first phase of the project saw great success in Swillington, Scholes, Thorner and East Keswick.
Community First Yorkshire are currently working with two new areas in rural South Leeds, Rothwell and Micklefield, to set up new hubs.
Mike from the tenants and residents association is one of the volunteer team in Micklefield.
After completing the asset mapping of Micklefield Mike said: “This looks really positive when you write it down like this and can see what assets you have in the community.”
One of the key partners in Rothwell is the library that provides the venue for the hub. Julia Malloch, who works in the library and delivers books out to communities, said: “Are we having a hub here? …I’m really excited as I’ve seen what they have done at Swillington.”
You can see all the Village Halls Week celebrations on Twitter using the hashtag #villagehallsweek
The Yorkshire poet, Ian McMillan, wrote a lovely poem to celebrate the role of village halls: