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Isolated communities granted share of £6 million lifeline

Residents of the historic island of Lindisfarne are to benefit from the building of a new village hall thanks to a grant of half a million pounds from the Big Lottery Fund.

20 projects across England, including Holy Island Village Hall, are today sharing just under £6 million from The Fund’s flagship Reaching Communities programme, which helps communities and people most in need. This month four projects – in Northumberland, Cumbria, Gloucestershire and Kent - have received grants towards much-needed community halls.

Holy Island, off the coast of Northumberland, is only accessible via a tidal causeway for two six-hour periods in every 24 hours. When the island’s original village hall was closed for safety reasons in 2005 and demolished in 2007, residents badly needed a new place to hold activities and provide services for young and old.

Prior to its closure, the old hall was used by the Mothers Union, knitting circle, keep fit clubs, for billiards, bowls, boxing, dances, art and photography. Most of these are expected to re-start when the new centre is built, along with new activities like a book exchange, health clinics, youth club, choral society, amateur dramatics, older people’s club, badminton, indoor football, darts and dominos.

Local organisations including the parish council, Fishermen’s Society, Holy Island Development Forum and Development Trust, primary school, church and Women’s Institute will also use the hall. In addition, the island attracts thousands of tourists and pilgrims each year and the hall will provide a base for these groups which contribute to the local economy.

David O’Connor, Trustee of the Holy Island Village Hall, “We are understandably delighted and the funding will enable us to move forward with the rebuild, reinstate the village hall as the focal point of island community life and a place where all can gather under one roof - an integral part of our island community life.       

“The opportunity to create a new village hall at the heart of island life is, quite literally, life-changing for Holy Island residents.  Because the island is tidal, all off island journeys require detailed planning.  We cannot jump on a bus and go off to the cinema, the health centre, or go shopping or to socialise on the mainland. 

“For example, a visit to the health centre in Belford involves a round trip 26 miles carefully planned and co-ordinated with the practice and all depending on car ownership or a helpful
neighbour with transport.  With a new village hall we can provide a place to fulfil the needs of the village on-island in addition to improving the opportunities for schools, colleges, pilgrims and others including education, recreation and sporting activities.”

Nat Sloane, England Chair of the Big Lottery Fund said: ‘’A small community on Holy Island, which is cut-off from the mainland for most of the time, will have a place of their own where they can access necessary services and social activities as a result of this grant.

“A community hall is often an essential ingredient to community life. It can help reduce isolation by providing opportunities for people of all ages and backgrounds to interact and learn from new and positive experiences. At the Big Lottery Fund we want people to lead fulfilling lives and that’s why in the £6 million we are announcing today, many communities across England will benefit from having a central hub at the heart of their community.”

Also receiving a building grant today is Bothel Village Hall in Allerdale, Cumbria which receives £473,000 to build a new hall and make improvements to its range of facilities, services and activities to provide a proper community hub.

Located near Cockermouth, the village has a population of 421, but has limited services and facilities. The nearest shop, cafe, health services and post office are six miles away, meaning that residents are highly dependent on personal transport or infrequent public transport to enable them to get to services and activities outside the village. 

By providing the local community with its own services and activities, the new community hub will bring with it a reduced sense of rural isolation, improved community relationships, new skills for many and an overall increase in wellbeing.

Four mining villages in Gloucestershire are also set to benefit today from a grant of £482,044 to provide a new community centre.

Yorkley Recreation Centre was built in 1911 and comprises a village hall and recreation ground historically provided for the use of the inhabitants of the villages of Yorkley, Oldcroft, Viney Hill and Pillowell.

The grant will be used to provide a new community centre to meet the needs of these communities today, giving them access to a range of new opportunities and providing a focus for learning and health and wellbeing activities.

The four villages have a combined population of 3,575 people, all of whom could benefit from the new community hub. Currently however, there is very little for older people and children to do locally, so these groups will see the biggest improvement in what is available to them.

In Faversham, Kent, Stalisfield Village Hall Trust receives a grant of £307,161 to build a new village hall. Stalisfield is home to 220 residents and apart from the existing hall which is in serious disrepair, the only other village amenity is a pub. The funding will mean the old hall can be demolished and a larger, fit-for-purpose replacement built. The community has been working together on the fundraising bid and their successful application for the new hall means this important facility will be at the centre of village life.

Meanwhile, in Central London, Somerville Youth and Play Provision have been awarded a £25,000 development grant so they can start their ambitious plans to demolish a dilapidated community hut and create a modern youth hub in its place in Lewisham.

Through the development grant, Somerville will aim to obtain the planning and architectural drawings necessary to submit a successful planning application to build a new children and young people's hub. Following partnership work with youth organisations, the project hopes a new centre will welcome more young people from the locality and also its surrounding areas, without the gang and territorial disputes meaning many parents wouldn't fear their children venturing further afield.

A full list of projects awarded funding from the Reaching Communities programme across England is available here.

Big Lottery Fund Press Office: 020 7211 1888
Out of hours media contact: 07867 500 572
Textphone: 0845 6021 659

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Notes to editors

  • The Big Lottery Fund, the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery.
  • The Fund is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 the Fund has awarded close to £6bn.
  • The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006.
  • Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £30 billion has now been raised and more than 400,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

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