Top Ten Village Hall FAQs
1. We’re setting up a new village hall committee and need some start up advice – can you help?
As a first step, make sure you get a good mix of skills and experience from your team. If you’re looking for more members, it’s a good idea to involve those who can bring additional knowledge to the table. And try to share different project responsibilities out equally among members.
The Charity Commission’s publications are a good starting point for members and trustees. Call 0845 300 0218 or download them free from: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/charity-commission/about/publication-scheme.
ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) produces a number of information sheets and model documents, which give detailed information on all aspects of Village Hall management. http://www.acre.org.uk/cms/resources/village-hall-publications.pdf If you would like to order any of these, please contact us on 01789 472610 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
HMRC provide information on eligibility for reduced VAT rates – further information is available at https://www.gov.uk/vat-charities/what-qualifies-for-relief.
Getting the right insurance for your venture is key. Here’s a checklist of items you need to consider [link to doc] and you can find a shortlist of ACRE recommended providers here [link to doc].
2. We want to use our church as a community building – where do we start?
Hereford Diocese (with input from English Heritage) have created a very useful toolkit to help you create a revitalised community space in your church. You can find the full document here: https://cofehereford.contentfiles.net/media/assets/file/Crossing_the_Threshold_-_2014.pdf.
3. How do we carry out a risk assessment?
The Health and Safety Executive have provided a very useful example of how to do this: http://www.hse.gov.uk/risk/casestudies/villagehall.htm. Also see their guide on leading H&S at work http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg417.pdf and on maintaining portable electric equipment at http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/indg236.pdf.
4. Help – we’re not sure how many people can use our hall for an event?
Check out this handy helpsheet at http://dorsethalls.net/content/calculating-maximum-numbers-can-safely-occupy-your-hall. And your insurance company may also be helpful.
5. Can you help with financial management and accounting?
The Charities Accountancy Self Help site at http://www.cash-online.org.uk/ [up to date enough?] has lots of information including a jargon buster and its publication, “Community Money Matters”.
6. We have hirers who use our hall to run lunch clubs and similar events – what food safety guidelines apply?
Halls Together have some useful guidance on food hygiene and safety for village halls: Halls Together – food safety advice for shared kitchens in village halls and community rooms
The Food Standards Authority recommends that anyone working with food is “adequately trained” in food hygiene and safety, and a Level 2 Food Hygiene certificate is the easiest way to show this. Hirers will need to make sure that all food is being prepared safely at home and include this in their risk assessment. It is best practice to list ingredients and allergans.
If hirers are regularly preparing/providing food (whether made on home or at the venue) for their event(s) they may be deemed to be a “food business”. This applies to each individual hirer, and also to your hall if you are regularly running events.
There is more information online at the Food Standards Agency website but each case may vary, so best practice is to contact your local Food Safety/Environmental Health team to get the necessary advice.
7. Our hall is old, cold and needs refurbishing. Where do we begin?
Try conducting your own Energy Efficient audit – take some tips from English Heritage’s Energy Conservation brochure at https://www.historicengland.org.uk/advice/your-home/saving-energy/. And you’ll find suggestions on funding sources at http://www.heritagefundingdirectoryuk.org as well as how to apply for our Rural Initiative Fund [link to page].
8. We’ve been offered free solar PV panels – is this a good idea?
The Energy Saving Trust has a fact sheet explaining how the offer works and key questions to be considered before accepting such an offer http://www.energysavingtrust.org.uk/renewable-energy/electricity/solar-panels.
9. Are we allowed to run a Bingo Night for fundraising?
You can play Bingo provided you adhere to the relevant conditions for either prize gaming or equal chance gaming. ACRE includes a fact sheet on this in their documents library (see above).
10. We’re thinking about trading to raise income – what are the implications?
This article is worth reading: https://www.theguardian.com/society/2009/nov/03/charities-trading-questions. We recommend you checking with the Charity Commission (see above) for the updated position and it may also be worth considering legal advice.