The latest news from the West of England Rural Network
About us
The West of England Rural Network (WERN) is a charity established to support and shape rural communities in South Gloucestershire, North Somerset, Bath and North East Somerset and Bristol.  We aim to support and encourage community led action and strong local governance, to increase the long term sustainability of local community life and to influence policies and services to achieve equity for rural communities.

New Trustees
We are delighted to announce that two new trustees have joined our board;  Kieran Highman, a project manager at the Centre for Sustainable Energy and Frances Tyson, a recently retired senior manager at Bath and Bristol Universities.  Our new recruits are bring their skills and expertise to join the excellent governance of the existing board members.

The Village Agents
Our team of Village Agents working within the Chew Valley have had a busy summer organising a series of monthly 'roadshows'.  Each event brings local people together with service providers including Age Concern, care and repair, the library service, independent living services and local community car schemes.  Participants enjoyed finding out more about services available in the local area, as well as having a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a good chat! 

Our Village Agents have also helped launch new ventures such as a local coffee morning and a Chew Valley Dementia Support Group.  In these cases the ideas have come from the community, but the Village Agents have been able to advertise the events and provide support and  encouragement to the local organisers.  And of course they are there on the day to help serve tea and coffee and answer any questions that participants may have about their own role.

Building on the success the team has achieved in Bath and North East Somerset the team is now expanding into North Somerset.  We are currently recruiting a new village agent to work in the parishes of Blagdon, Butcombe, Burrington Combe, Dundry, Winford and Wrington.  There are just a few days left until the application deadline of the 27th September.  More details and an application form are available at

Community Oil Buying Scheme
We are currently urging our community oil buying scheme members to 'buy oil early'.  Demand for domestic heating oil always increases during the winter months and tends to peak around Christmas.  As demand rises, prices tend to follow, and over Christmas last year, at least one supplier was charging £1.00 per litre.  Comparing this with the 54p per litre our members were paying this summer, you could easily save hundreds of pounds by ordering early and paying lower prices through a member's scheme such as the one the West of England Rural Network are running. 

The scheme works by placing a single collective order once a month and negotiating with the suppliers to give a good price for a large order.  More details can by found at

Become a Member of the West of England Rural Network
All members have the right to nominate or to stand as a trustee of the organisation, to vote on the election of trustees and to vote on any motions at our AGM.  We invite members to our events, for example last year we held an affordable housing event, a community land trust event and a village halls event, and we periodically send briefings and information about our activities.  Membership for 2013/2014 will once again be free of charge.  You can become a member of WERN by completing an application form, available on our website.

Prince’s Countryside Fund reopens
From 23rd September organisations and charities can apply for funding of up to £50,000 for work helping tackling rural isolation, the decline of rural communities, low farming incomes and the lack of access to training. The Fund has up to £800,000 to invest in total and to date has given over £3 million in three years. Applications will close on 23rd October at 5pm.

Post Office Community Fund still open
The Post Office Community Enterprise Fund will remain open until Friday 18th October. Post offices branches can apply to receive up to £10,000 to support a new scheme or service for their local community. Ideas include a display space for local producers, partnership with a local charity to provide a meeting space, notice board and other forms of support or a hub or offering meeting place for local groups. There is lots of potential for the creative partnerships, contact your local post office to discuss ideas.

Please download the leaflet from the Post Office website

Get Equipped Fund
Funding from Sport England opens in October. £1 million will be available to buy specialist equipment to help disabled people take part in sport. Grants available between £300 and £10,000. Applications between 7 October and 2 December 2013, with decisions made by the end of January 2014.

How Civil Society can best engage with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP)
Infrastructure organisations in the West of England are working together to ensure local voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations can effectively engage with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) and to help shape its future plans. 

Invitations are open to all Civil Society organisations operating in or across the West of England (Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, and South Gloucestershire).  This free event will be held in central Bristol and will take place from 9.30 am until 1.00 pm on Tuesday 1st October 2013.  Due to limited places, booking is essential.

Sustainable Transport 2013 – 3 October
Govtoday are hosting the 4th Annual National Sustainable Transport Conference, Unlocking the door-to-door journey, in association with Sustrans, Passenger Focus and the British Parking Association. It will be held on Thursday 3 October at the Brewery, The City of London. Speakers include Alan Williams, Policy Adviser for Sustrans and Dr Stephen Hickey, Chair of the Community Transport Association UK.

Trust fundraising – 3 October
DSC has devised a new event designed to show you how to get more money from trusts. Each workshop costs £40 or you can be four workshops and lunch for £145. There are seven different workshops some of them available at no charge.

Improve the energy efficiency of homes in your area – October (various dates)
The Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) is running a series of events in October aimed at community groups and volunteers. This initiative aims to get more groups running open homes events, which are a great way to showcase energy saving improvements made by people in their own homes. The event s will give people a chance to learn from successful open homes event organisers, pick up guidance and network with other groups. As well as open homes we’ll have talks from other inspiring local energy efficiency projects. Additionally CSE’s Green Open Homes competition is now open for applications. You can win between £500 and £20,000 to help you run an event. Visit to download the application form.

Dates for free webinars on Lottery funding announced
Our partners in Berkshire, CCB, are providing popular, free, online, interactive workshops this autumn. By taking part in these sessions you will have a better understanding of the Big Lottery Fund including Awards for All and Reaching Communities Programmes, the current funding environment, an increased understanding of the programmes and how to strengthen and improve your application and an increased confidence to apply.

Localism and Neighbourhood Planning Conference – 24 October
With the implementation of the Localism Act 2011 and the National Planning Policy Framework, the last two years have seen important changes to planning which are starting to have an impact on rural areas. The conference in Cirencester will explore these issues. Speakers include the Department for Communities and Local Government, RICS, Gloucestershire RCC and an Independent Examiner of Neighbourhood Plans. This full day conference costs £60 including lunch and refreshments.  To find out more or book a place contact the Royal Agricultural University, Cirencester on 01285 652531 ext 4045 or by emailing

Delivering Effective Local Healthwatch: key success factors
This document is a refresh of Developing Effective Local Healthwatch. It is hoped that it will help councils to better understand the commissioning of local Healthwatch and review how well their local Healthwatch delivers its roles and responsibilities. It can also help local Healthwatch develop their understanding of what is expected of them and how they can deliver best practice.

Videos from the Disclosure and Barring Service
The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have created two videos to help explain how the new Update Service can benefit applicants and employers, enabling online checking that DBS Certificates are up-to-date and have degree of portability between jobs. 

West of England Rural Network

A member of the Rural Community Action Network.  The West of England Rural Network is an independent registered charity and is one of thirty-eight rural community councils across England.  With the support of our funders we provide information and advice on a wide range of community projects and rural services.
  • Supporting and encouraging community-led action and strong local governance
  • Increasing long-term sustainability of local community life
  • Influencing  policies and services to achieve equity for rural communities
Registered Charity 1146165.
Company Limited by Guarantee No 7956732.
Company Registered in England
Registered Office: The Mill, Tunbridge Road, Chew Magna, Bristol, BS40 8SP
T:   01275 333701

Copyright © 2013 West of England Rural Network, All rights reserved.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp