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February 27, 2008

Village Halls Summit

Village halls are the cornerstone of rural community life and it’s reckoned that there are currently over 3000 across Scotland. Last weekend, SCVO convened the first ever Village Halls Summit in Aviemore. An impressive event with well over 200 delegates in attendance. Many reported that their halls were struggling to make ends meet and to be fit for purpose for the 21st century


More than 200 members of the volunteer army who manage rural Scotland’s Village Halls and other community facilities gathered in Aviemore last weekend, at the first ever Scottish Village Halls Summit. The response to the event was been described by the organisers as “overwhelming”, with every available place booked up two weeks in advance.

Representatives from every part of rural Scotland heard Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment, Richard Lochhead talk about the Government’s plans to support halls and other community facilities. Very significant new funding is coming on stream through the Scottish Rural Development Programme and the Minister also announced that he was making £200,000 available to SCVO to ensure that communities were supported through the application process.

Delegates were given an opportunity to put their questions and comments to the Minister about what needs to be done to ensure a sustainable future for village halls. Later in the day an expert panel were on hand to answer some specific questions about funding and support for community facilities.

The Conference was organised by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), who have had a long history of support for village halls, including managing the 21st Century Halls Millennium Funding which provided £7 million of funding to rebuild or refurbish 56 Scottish Village Halls. It was supported by the Scottish Government, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and ILA Scotland.

SCVO Rural Policy Manager Norman MacAskill said: “We were genuinely overwhelmed by the interest in this event, and the demand for places. We expected around a hundred people to sign up, but have ended up with more than double that number coming, showing the passionate commitment felt by people living in rural Scotland to the shared community spaces at the heart of their communities.”
“With SCVO’s Halls for All campaign last year and the first ever Village Halls Summit, we are doing our bit to help build a powerful collective voice for the volunteer army who manage rural Scotland’s Village Halls and other community facilities.”