Coronavirus, COVID -19 and Village Halls

Thursday 9 April

Food Parcels over Easter Weekend Do you know anyone who would benefit from receiving a food parcel over the Easter weekend?  Your own hall, or a group in your community, may be already involved in co-ordinating volunteers to assist people in this time of crisis.  If so – can you help?

The following message is from AGE UK Northumberland and it would be grateful if you would pass on this message to people  – and get in touch with Angela Clough directly if you can help.  Her details are at the bottom of the message

 ‘’Age UK Northumberland will be receiving a donation of food parcels sometime over the Easter weekend.  We would like to distribute them throughout Northumberland to those who are elderly and vulnerable.  I have been advised that they contain e.g. teabags/cornflakes/rice cakes/crisps/pies and soup already packed into individual boxes (the sort paper is delivered in). If you would like to receive a delivery of food parcels please contact me directly and we can discuss delivery/collection. My contact details are: Angela Clough, Community Engagement Officer, Age UK Northumberland, Mobile: 07710 702915 Email: Please note allocation will be on a first come first served basis’’.

Coronavirus Funding

The following three sources of funding have been announced and tend to focus on supporting vulnerable people and communities.

Princes Countryside Fund This invites applications for emergency funding from farming and rural community support groups, who are providing assistance to counter the effects of isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic. For more details on eligibility, grant maximums and deadlines go here.

Northumbria’ s Police and Crime Commissioner  Kim McGuinness has launched a  £200,000 fund to support small and large charities which are struggling to retain their offer of support to victims and communities in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. Details can be found here.

The Charities Aid Foundation launched a new fund for the emergency just a few days ago but it is now in pause because of the number of applications received. More information here.

These three funds are dwarfed by the Chancellor’s announcement yesterday (April 9th) of £750 million for the charity sector. Of this, only £310 million is available in England through applications and these will be managed by the National Lottery Community Fund. More information will be supplied as it becomes available over the next few weeks.

Friday 3 April

Grants for community Buildings – change in heart over eligibility

In the third iteration of the Government guidance on Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants it looks like members may well now be entiitled to compensation for the financial consequences of Coronavirus on their halls. Please see this latest advice from ACRE.. It explains that halls will be contacted by NCC with application forms. It goes on to spell out other potential sources of support.

Licences during close down

Many thanks to Colin Chipp of Felton Village hall for first drawing to our attention the whole issue of licences (music, film etc).

PRS/PPL Music Licence Contacted them on 2 April and they indicated that any period of closure would be taken into account and compensated. See here for the latest update as well as a very useful Frequently Asked Questions section. Tel: 0800 0720 808

MPLC (Motion Picture Licensing Company Ltd)

Spoke on 3 April and was told that it would consider extending the duration of the licence period or offer a credit to licence holders.   Community buildings are advised to email them with their account details explaining when they were closed for business.  Email:

Alcohol Licence

For those members with an alcohol licence, we await a reply to our enquiry from the officer responsible at Northumberland County Council

Tuesday 31 March The latest edition of CAN ENews (March 30th) provides helpful advice and information for halls including how to avoid the inevitable scams.

Funding Directory now accessible to all  To support the voluntary and community sector under these exceptional circumstances, VONNE (Voluntary Organisations Network North East)  has temporarily made its online Funding Directory accessible to all. Usually a benefit restricted to their Silver and Gold Membership+ supporters, the resource contains the details of more than 100 charitable trusts and foundations that are actively funding charities and community groups in the North East region. The directory is regularly reviewed and updated, and is searchable although we suggest that you use it to find details of specific funder which have come to your attention.

Tuesday 24 March The Prime Minister’s announcement of further restrictions has meant that most community  buildings will completely cease functioning for a number of weeks.  In addition to the advice given below from CAN/ACRE, the Government and the Charity Commission, I have found something recently updated from the Sussex Rural Community Council. The first section deals with general advice but half way down it moves to specific advice targeted at village halls and rural community buildings.

Thursday 19 March Some members have asked whether the Consortium has any advice over how village halls should best respond to the Coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreak. Ultimately it is entirely up to each hall’s management committee, and the hirers of their halls, to make the decision whether to cancel activities and events. Given the Government’s announcement on Monday 16 March that all non-essential social contact was to be avoided, and that this was particularly so for those aged over 70, it seems likely that halls will be cancelling gatherings both small and large or shut until further notice.

We appreciate that this is going to be a very difficult time for halls both in terms of their main purpose of providing valuable facilities for social and educational activities but also because of the impact it will have on their incomes. Without the income from hirings, which, for most community buildings, provides the necessary income to pay for on-going costs like energy, insurance, licences etc, many will struggle if the period of disruption continues for more than a few months. Management Committees have long recognised that they have a duty of care in providing a safe facility for the community to use. In the absence of community buildings being able to offer the usual service,  those managing them may well wish to look for other ways help ensure that those most vulnerable are cared for and not forgotten.

For up-to-date Government advice, please follow this link.

Community Action Northumberland and ACRE have recently published this joint statement.

The Charity Commission addresses a few general queries here