New Web Portal for village halls in the County

The public launch of this new service is planned to take place at the end of March. About 30 halls from all over Northumberland have already joined and many of them now have a web presence for the first time. Have a look here. If you like what you see get in touch with Louise Currie ( to discover what you have to do next. Remember that the first year is free.

Coronavirus and Village Halls

March 2021 Latest from ACRE 

The latest advice from ACRE can be found  here.  Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) spells out what is allowed and not allowed in village halls during the government’s 4 step roadmap first announced on February 22nd. This is always assuming all goes well in terms of continued Covid rate reduction and vaccinations etc.  A central message is that halls will be closed for most activities until May 17th and after that date strict Covid security will be expected. 

March 2021 Grant Opportunities 

Covid grants are still open for application from eligible community buildings. See the County Council’s website and scroll down for the details and how to apply.  Some community buildings have already received over £22k which includes last summer’s original RHLG of £10k. Beware that many of the grants are dependent on your hall being open on a particular day last autumn.   All these grants, originating from central government,  are designed to cover three main costs a) direct Covid costs like additional cleaning, hand gels, dispensers, signs etc.  b) to cover fixed costs during periods of closure and c)  reopening costs.

December 2020  Government Information on new Local Restriction Tiers.

When the national lockdown ended at midnight on December 1st, the new Three Tier local restrictions started. The whole of the North East of England is designated to be in Tier 3, the Very High Alert level.  Please go here to find the latest Government guidance published on 23 November, as to what is allowed. We have highlighted paragraphs in this guidance particularly relevant to community buildings in Tier 3. ACRE’s latest advice (December 2nd) can be found here.


Thursday 5 November 

ACRE have published their latest information on the current 4 week lockdown and the permitted activities in village halls/community buildings. Download it here.  An update released on November 11 providing more detail can be seen here.

Thursday 1 October

Community Action Northumberland have sent out today their interpretation of what Matt Hancock’s announcement on Monday means for village halls. Provided you implement the Covid security measures you may be surprised at the activities you can continue.

Saturday 26 September

Test & Trace and QR Codes

From 24th September the Regulations for the Collection of Contact Details require every hirer or organisation using a community hall to comply with the obligation to register for an NHS QR code, display the official NHS QR poster and keep records for Test and Trace and every community hall to ensure hirers comply. NB To use this QR code users will need to have a smart phone which was probably launched within the last 5 years.

Village and community hall committees and managers organising activities at the hall will have to comply, including for their own committee meetings. Village and community hall trustees will need to reinforce the obligation on people who hire their hall, to keep their own records.

ACRE has produced a guidance sheet which explains who is responsible, with links for registration, the poster and other guidance.

Download the ACRE guidance sheet

Saturday 19 September

Please find below the latest information from Community Action Northumberland.  This follows the announcement of the additional restrictions throughout Northumberland and other areas of the North East. The latest ACRE Information sheet (issue 6 from 17.09.20) is also available as are the two updated Risk Assessments for those managing halls and for hirers.

On September 15 , Government  published updated Covid Guidelines for Community Facilities which included references to the “rule of 6” and the following day ACRE published a statement in response. There is clearly some confusion over what halls can and can’t do, what mingling and mixing mean, how halls are meant to determine whether there is any “significant likelihood” of groups socialising.  We  eagerly await the latest ACRE information to shine a light on this.

Friday 11 September

The Government published an update of the COVID-19 Guidance relating to community buildings on the 9th September after the “rule of 6” had been announced. Many halls have been waiting for this with anticipation and you will see that provided halls stick to the social distancing, mask wearing rules then they are free to open as long as they abide by the capacity restrictions which will be different for each venue depending on its size and lay-out. We strongly suggest you read these new Guidelines to determine if your hall meets the requirements.

Saturday 22 August

ACRE has just updated (21.08.20) its most recent information sheet so now 5.1 is available. Scroll to the bottom of the page to download the files. Louise Currie of CAN has  produced a short summary of the changes which can be found here.. CAN also provides a useful summary of the situation relating to face coverings:- The Department of Health & Social Care has confirmed the following information about wearing face coverings in village halls: “On entering a village hall, you will be required to wear a face covering, and will be required to keep it on, unless you are covered under a ‘reasonable excuse’. This could be for a gym class, if you need to eat or drink something, or if you have a health or disability reason to not wear one. A reasonable excuse does not cover someone just ‘popping in’ or sitting on the side and watching (for example). Face coverings can be removed if users are undertaking exercise or an activity and it would negatively impact their ability to do so. The guidance on wearing face coverings sets out the circumstances where members of the public do not need to wear a face covering and when they can be removed.”

You can read the full government guidance regarding face coverings via this link

Wednesday 19 August

ACRE has just released its latest Information sheet (VERSION 5 dated 17 August 2020) on the  preparation for the safe opening of village halls. Face coverings feature much more as it is now a government requirement to wear them, in most circumstances, while in a hall. The two appendices  with sample Risk Assesssments can be found here – Appendix F for halls and G for hirers

If you are looking for a fast and free source of professional looking posters you could try this website. You can even customise the text before you download them to make them more relevant to your hall. Don’t forget to change the 1m distance to 2 m!

Thursday 23 July

Please find issue 4 of the latest update (current July 20) of the ACRE information on the safe opening of halls. The changes are concentrated in Appendices D and new ones J & K . They relate to the relaxation of the rules relating to certain activities which are allowed after July 25 and August 1. If you scroll down towards the bottom of the page, please also note the updated versions of examples of the Risk Assessments for both the hall and potential users.

Sunday 21 June

Last week ACRE published information on the re-opening of halls.  The main document with Appendices a-e can be found here and the two Risk Assessment appendices f (sample risk assessment for re-opening halls) & g  (sample risk assessment for hirers) can be found here.

CAN  strongly advise that: ACRE has been working with Village Hall Advisers to prepare this guidance which gives the information that trustees will need to consider, before they decide to open the building.  The guidance is issued with an expectation that the regulations will be amended by 4th July – in readiness for halls opening from 6th July onwards, based on the current 2 metre social distancing requirement.  It is likely that it will be amended again, in order that it reflects new information – so please keep checking for the updates.  Please note that the guidance must be read along with the attachments that come with it and you should apply the information appropriate for your particular hall and circumstances.  I would encourage you to ensure that all the trustees of your hall see the documents and that you discuss and record the matter of re-opening as a full committee.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant

By July 14th all our member halls, who are entitled to the government grant and completed the on-line form, have received  the £10,000 RHLG to help offset the income lost and any costs likely to be incurred because of the Covid-19 pandemic. That amounts to £630,000 to 63 members.

We have recently updated the survey of our members’ incomes from the figures published by the Charity Commission. For the bar graph go here.

Licence Payments during shutdown

Clearly halls are unable to benefit from doing those things for which they are licensed if they are closed and so some members have enquired with the relevant licence authorities whether they will offer credit or extension during the Covid restrictions. The answer is mixed but the  Covid grants can clearly be used in this context. 

PRS/PPL Music Licence Contacted them on 2 April 2020 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)

The MPLC is offering a 4 month extension of the licence period.   Community buildings are advised to email them with their account details explaining when they were closed for business.  Email:


List of Suppliers

You will recall that several months ago, on the suggestion of members, we agreed to compile a directory of useful suppliers covering everything from painting & decorating to building surveyors. We invited all members to make suggestions and so far have details of about 30 different suppliers. To download a PDF version, click here

I am sure most members have their favoured suppliers so, if we haven’t already heard from you, please get in touch with the suppliers name, what they do and their contact details.