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Welcome to Connecting Communities in Berkshire first E-bulletin of 2020.
It's Village Hall Week!

Our national body - Action with Communities in Rural England (ACRE) runs the annual campaign Village Halls Week which celebrates the community spaces at the heart of rural communities. Village Halls Week is a national campaign which celebrates the services provided by halls and the volunteers making it possible. Many halls provide a space for shops, cafes, pop up pubs, nurseries and doctors. They are an essential part of rural life. 

If you follow our Facebook or Twitter pages you will see we have been busy promoting all that our village halls do for communities in Berkshire this week.  CCB have been providing a support service to Village Hall trustees for over 25 years including helping with fundraising applications and ensuring that our village halls are safe and suitable venues from which to hold community events. To read more about our current membership service please click here.

As part of the celebrations we have also written some 'spotlight' articles focusing on the history of a couple of village halls in our county and the ongoing service they are providing their community. Click below to read more about Spencers Wood Village Hall in Wokingham Borough or Thatcham Parish Hall in West Berkshire. We would like to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all the volunteers and trustees that give up their time energy to Berkshire's Village Halls and Community Buildings and ensure they remain a valuable community asset.

Spotlight on Village Halls in Berkshire

Spencers Wood Village Hall: Spencers Wood Hall is a beautiful Arts and Crafts building on the Basingstoke Road next to St. Michaels and All Angels Church. It was originally constructed in 1911 by Mrs Hunter of Beech Hill, and was then officially donated by her daughter, Mary Charlotte Hunter to the residents of the Parish of Spencers Wood, in 1948. The Hall is an integral part of Spencers Wood, it has been through two World Wars and seen many changes over the decades, with countless people using the facilities through the years. To read more on this article please click here.

Thatcham Parish Hall:  The idea of a village hall was instigated in 1903 by Miss A.L Henry, third daughter of John Henry of Colthrop Mill, and plans were made to erect a venue to accommodate 200 people at concerts and other entertainments. Within a few years some £350 had been raised. The Parish Hall was built by Mr. W. Child of Thatcham and was opened on 10th April 1907 by Mrs Benyon, wife of the Lord Lieutenant of Berkshire. The Parish Hall was built in 1907 for the people of Thatcham and has been in regular use ever since by many groups for meetings, entertainment, parties and sports. To read more please click here.
Hallmark Training opportunity for Village Hall Trustees in Wokingham & West Berkshire

Hallmark Levels 1 – 3 are quality standard marks for Village Halls & Community Buildings

They demonstrate to your Community and stakeholders (e.g. Insurance Companies, banks & funders) that your building meets the basic standards (L1) through to exceptional standards (L3) of quality provision.

They also act as an internal audit to reassure Trustees/Management Committees that they are meeting legal obligations and serving the community as directed by their constitution.

Hallmark training has been scheduled for the following dates, please click on the link to book your place:

26th March, 10am – 12pm at Ashhampstead Village Hall, Hallmark 1 (West Berkshire Halls):

18th May, 10am – 12pm, Hurst Village Hall, Hallmark 1 (Wokingham Village Halls):

21st May, 10am – 12pm , Hampstead Norreys, Hallmark 2:

After you have achieved HALLMARK 1, you can attend HALLMARK 2 training. After attending this course and a short site visit you could attain a HALLMARK 2 certificate.

In the Autumn of 2020 we plan to work with L2 Halls to help them achieve HALLMARK 3 (the highest standard)

What does training cover? Training covers a great deal, but in essence covers the following;

Hallmark 1 focuses on the management and administration of the charity.
Hallmark 2 focuses on health, safety, security and licences.
Hallmark 3 requires the hall to be working with the community and its users, including stakeholders; marketing the hall and building its profile in the centre of the community.

The aim of Hallmark is to:
• Establish good practice
• Encourage improvement in established customs and procedures
• Gain recognition for obtaining good standards in management of the hall
For any questions or further details please contact:
Funding Opportunities in January: New Year, New Funding!
Please click on links for more information regarding funding opportunities.

Satellite Club Funding Are you enthusiastic about getting Berkshire teenagers more active? Start up, work in partnership or need more funds for a satellite club? Roller Skating, Friday Night Football, Inclusive Ice Skating, Wheelchair Rugby, Dance and Angling are only some of the activities that a satellite club might offer. Read on for more info.

The Open Fund for Organisations
The Open Fund for Organisations supports new music projects led by promoters, talent development organisations, venues, festivals, curators and large performance groups.
See for more details. Deadlines for current round: 12th February 2020

British Ecological Society
British Ecological Society Grants to promote ecological science
Outreach Grants available to individuals and organisations such as schools, museums, libraries and community groups to promote ecological science to a wide audience. Funding of upto £2000 available.
See for details and to apply. Deadline for this round: 20th March 2020

Ouseley Trust: Church Choral Music Grants
Churches, choral foundations, choir schools and others which promote a high standard of Church choral music have until the 28th February 2020 to apply for funding from the Ouseley trust. Funding categories cover: courses, endowments, fees for individual choristers at choir schools, the purchase of liturgical music and other innovative projects.
See for details. Deadline 28th February 2020.

Berkshire Community Foundation Funding – Give a Child a Chance Grants are made to individual children and groups which work with children up to and including the age of 18 (and up to the age of 25 for those with learning and/or physical disabilities). 

Berkshire Carers Service Fund Berkshire Carers Service Fund will allocate awards aiming to benefit carers to charities or community groups working in Berkshire.

Disadvantage in Slough Fund Berkshire Community Foundation manages a fund which aims to support community groups addressing issues of disadvantage impacting on residents of all ages living within Slough.

Vital for Berkshire Essential Resources Fun‘Vital for Berkshire’ aims to increase support for people across Berkshire who are struggling to cope with a range of issues preventing them from having a safe home, good health and secure employment.

BCF Funds for The Elderly BCF manages a number of funds which aim to support projects tackling issues of isolation, disability and/or disadvantage affecting the elderly.

Masonic Charity – Later Life This grant programme is open to charities who are working to reduce loneliness and isolation in later life. 

Masonic Charity – Early Years OpportunitiesThis programme is open to charities that help disadvantaged children and young people overcome the barriers they face to achieve the best possible start in life.

Co-op Community Dividend Fund
Deadline: 31st January, 2020
Grants are available to support local causes and make a positive difference across the central region of England

NFU Mutual Charitable Trust
Grants are available to large charitable groups and organisations in the UK for projects that further the objectives of the NFU Mutual Charitable Trust, particularly those that educate young people in rural areas and relieve of poverty in rural areas.

With thanks to Slough CVS, Wokingham & Bracknall InVOLve and Volunteer Centre West Berkshire for funding news content.

It’s Big Energy Saving Week this week! CCB’s Family Home Energy Education and Advice Project targets low-income families in or at risk of fuel poverty in Berkshire. This week, Helen Dean is visiting Lambourn Royal British Legion to give advice and information to families attending a parent and toddler group, and baby weigh-in.  A snap-shot from last year’s project shows the impact that CCB is making  - 185 families were advised to claim the Warm Home Discount (of which they were previously unaware), levering £25,900 of income to low-income families.
New training opportunity in Wokingham: Building Power through Community Organising

Discover how power drives community organising; what power means and how power can be be built in communities to create change.

On this course you will explore and develop your understanding of power, which is what drives community organising: what power means and how power can be built in communities to overcome social injustice and create change.

Using fun and thought-provoking activities, and thinking about our own lives, we will think about the different types and effect of power and look at the ways that people can build power together through community organising.

During this course you will explore:
  • your personal power and ability to act
  • how power is exercised in society
  • what it means to organise for change
  • how to begin to pinpoint the causes of social injustice
  • how to build power with others through community organising
This course is primarily for residents of Wokingham Borough Council and is supported by Wokingham BC Adult Community Learning. PLACES MUST BE BOOKED, please cick here to book your place:
Collaborative Housing – community-led solutions to local housing need
By Tom McCulloch, Collaborative Housing

The UK housing system is in crisis. Not nearly enough affordable homes are being built. Across Berkshire there are thousands of people on social housing registers. Rents are high, and the average house price in Berkshire is over 10 times average earnings. Community-led housing (CLH) is a way to meet housing needs that the system isn’t adequately responding to.

Collaborative Housing is a new support service for community-led housing groups across the Thames Valley: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. CLH is a new concept to a lot of people. Here we answer some common questions about what it is and why more and more communities are looking to CLH to meet their housing needs.

Community-led housing – what’s it all about then?
CLH is when a community group is involved throughout a housing development and then owns or manages the homes afterwards. CLH is led by volunteers, delivering housing solutions to meet local needs. Truly and permanently affordable housing is often a driving principle of a CLH project.

Tell me more about the different kinds of CLH?
There are four main types of CLH: cohousing, Community Land Trusts, co-operatives and self-help housing. With cohousing, households have a self-contained home but residents come together to manage their community and share some facilities. Community Land Trusts are usually set up to deliver affordable, locally-managed homes, but sometimes oversee workspaces and green spaces as well. With cooperative housing, residents democratically control and manage their homes. Self-help housing often involves a group of people repairing and bringing empty properties back into use.

Is it just about an affordable home?
There are many other benefits that come from working with others on a CLH project, such as improved neighbourliness and well-being. Isolation can be reduced, with living environments created where people are in frequent contact and look out for each other. This allows people to live healthy, happy lives in their own communities. Tackling the climate emergency through zero-carbon homes is an aspiration for many groups, while other projects can form part of a strategy to tackle homelessness.

Sounds good but complicated – does it really work?
There are almost 3,000 Community land Trusts in England. In Austria, 60% of housing is community-led. In Germany it’s 80%. So why not in the UK? There are approximately 30 CLTs, cohousing and cooperative housing groups in the Thames Valley already and interest is growing.

Where do I found out more about community-led housing?
Collaborative Housing was officially launched at a Celebration of Community-Led Housing event at Oxford Town Hall on 16th January. A second event to celebrate this launch will be held on the Berkshire/Buckinghamshire borders in the coming months. For more information please visit our website at or email
New volunteer experts to support CCB
At the end of 2019, CCB applied to the Government’s Analytical Volunteering Programme (, through the NCVO ( for support with data analysis in conjunction with our loneliness and social isolation project. We're delighted to report that CCB have been matched with two volunteers.

Marine Roux is from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Adam Secret is from the Home Office. Both have the ideal mix of skills and experience in researching and working with data that we need to make sense of the many indicators that, in combination, will give our project fresh insight into the scale and nature of social isolation amongst older people in Berkshire.

With help from Marine and Adam, we hope to develop a tool that will enable us to quantify the numbers of people within any given geography within Berkshire, based on an appropriate range of criteria. This should give the communities we are working with some valuable insights into the appropriateness of the range of current social activities taking place already, as well as the scale of potential demand for new social activities that target specific, under-represented groups. For more information on this project, please contact Tim Parry at
Training opportunity for Parent & Carers in Wokingham to learn life saving skills

Would you know what to do if your child was ill or had an accident?
Parents and carers in Wokingham have the opportunity to book on this informative and interactive two hour workshop, facilitated by local charity Connecting Communities in Berkshire, supported by the Wokingham BC Adult Community Learning team.

Babies and children cannot be wrapped in cotton wool but you can have the skills to help them if they need it. In just 2 hours, learn what to do in the vital minutes whilst you are waiting for the emergency services to arrive.

The Tutor is Rachel and she is a qualified first aid teacher from Ladybird First Aid. Places MUST be booked.

Dates & Venue

Saturday 15th February, 9.30 – 11.30am at Finchampstead Childrens Centre. Places MUST be booked and paid for (Cost £12 per person incl VAT): ALMOST FULLY BOOKED!

Tuesday 24th March, 9.30 – 11.30am at Brambles Children’s Centre. (Cost £12 per person including VAT)

These necessary skills could save your baby or child’s life.

The class covers baby and child first aid from birth to puberty (+/- 11 years old) and includes the following:

Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Recovery Position
Burns and Scalds
Febrile Convulsions
Bumps & Head Injuries
plus lots more…
All attendees of the 2 hour class receive a certificate of attendance. Babes in arms (under 1) are welcome on classes.
Thursday 30th January 2020 @ 7pm, Hermitage Village Hall. Link to booking form:
Wednesday 20th February @ 7pm, Brimpton Village Hall. Link to booking form:
This training is FREE to attend and provided by Heartstart Thatcham but places are limited and must be BOOKED. This training is supported by West Berkshire Council Adult Community Learning team & Gerald Palmer Eling Trust.

The Emergency Life training will cover:
  • Essential lifesaving skills that you can use in an emergency situation to save and prolong lives in your community
  • Priorities/the conscious casualty
  • Choking
  • The unconscious casualty
  • Serious bleeding
  • Cardiac arrest
  • Automated External Defibrillator
  • Suspected heart attack
  • ELS Certificate

Recruitment: Development Officer at the Five a Day project

Five a Day Market are recruiting a Development Officer to manage the Five a Day project 

Five A Day Market Garden is a not for profit community gardening project.  The project runs from a two acre garden, which is situated in the beautiful and tranquil hamlet of Englefield, approximately seven miles west of Reading, Berkshire.

This is an exciting opportunity to work with volunteers, enjoy the fruits and vegetables of the Five a Day garden, and develop new ideas to help more people of all ages discover and enjoy Five a Day. Download the  Development Officer JD and apply before 27th January 2020.

Got feedback? We'd love to hear from you. If you have any comments or articles you would like to be included in the next edition please e-mail
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