The Future of Your Village Hall

The Future of Hanna’s Field Charity

 

Most people in the village will probably have heard of Hanna’s Field Charity, and some will know that it is connected in some way with the Village Hall and playing fields. The Charity is in fact registered with the Charity Commission and its charitable status stems from its purpose, which is to manage and develop the facilities for the benefit of all those that live in East Hanningfield. The beneficiaries of Hanna’s Field Charity are you, the people of this parish. Effectively you own the Village Hall and Hanna’s Field.

 

 Village Hall extnsion under construction The Village Hall Extension under construction in December 2003

The Charity trustees are local people. They are volunteers and, apart from Jessica, the lady who takes bookings and keeps the Hall clean, nobody gets paid. The Charity trust deed allows for up to 24 trustees. Half elected and the other half representatives of hall user groups. Anybody can stand for election at the Charity AGM in April and so you can see its all very democratic.  Together the trustees are called the Management Committee and it meets six times a year in the hall committee room to oversee the running of the Hall and playing fields and make decisions about its future. These facilities include the post office shop run by Ash, who is the Charity’s tenant and has a long term lease for his premises.

 

The Charity has no independent income. The upkeep and maintenance of the facilities are paid mainly from the income from hires and rent, although the Charity does receive help with some costs such as grass cutting from your Parish Council. It means that the Charity can only spend on maintenance and new facilities what it receives in income from hire and if a thoughtless person smashes windows or damages the drain pipes, the money for repairs is money the Charity doesn’t have for say decorating the Hall or upgrading the kitchen (in 2004 Charity spent over £1,700 on clearing up after break-ins and vandalism – imagine what uses we could have put that money to!)

 

 A few of the stalls at the Village Fete September 2005

 

Some of the stalls at the Village Fete September 2005

 

It may seem odd that a local authority such as the Parish or Borough Council doesn’t maintain the hall and fields. After all it would be easier to let somebody else have the responsibility of managing the Hall, but there is a very good reason why we are a Charity.  When the land was purchased by the Parish Council for the village back in 1979, PC determined that the only way to ensure that the land would remain forever available to you the residents was to hand responsibility for it over to a Charitable Trust set up for this purpose. In this way, whatever changes may occur in local government organisation in future, the Hall and two playing fields at the heart of the village will always be there for you to use and enjoy. The fields can never be sold off or moved, or their use changed without the consent of the Charity’s trustees, the Charity Commission and you, the Charity’s beneficiaries.

 

Hanna’s Field Charity isn’t unique as a village hall charity, indeed there are over 9,000 village hall and community centre charities in England and Wales, representing more than 5% of all registered charities. They have a combined annual income of around £250 million. The Government recognises that village hall charities provide space and facilities for community services and activities, and can make an enormous difference to the well being and economy of the local community. Recognising their importance to local communities like ours, the Charity Commission issued a landmark report on in January about the future and management of village hall charities. You can read it on the Charity Commission’s web site at www.charity-commission.gov.uk. The main message was

“Village hall charities exist in a changing environment - funding is changing and so are the needs and interests of the communities they serve. Trustees need to keep pace with these changes if they are to meet their charitable purpose and survive”.

The purpose of the report, which received publicity in the press and news media, was to highlight the importance of village hall charities to local communities; the help they need to survive; the importance of support from the local community; and the need for good governance. Perhaps the most important of these from the Charity trustees’ point of view is the need for the full support and involvement of the local community.

 

We are all sometimes guilty of taking what we have for granted. Consider for a moment the village with no village hall, no shop, or school car parking; sports courts; playing fields and children’s play area at its heart. Perhaps you don’t use these at present but will that always be the case? If you intend to stay and live in this village taking an interest in your Village Hall and its management is really about making sure your Village Hall will survive into the future for you, your children and perhaps their children.

 

Hanna’s Field Charity was formed in December 1982 and over the period since, the Hall and Playing Fields have grown in size and popularity with the addition of new facilities and equipment.  But in the last few years the Management Committee has shrunk as trustees have left and not been replaced at AGMs.

 

 Lord Kitchener

If you would like to help Hanna's Field Charity with the management of the Village Hall and playing fields or with its fund raising activiites please contact the Charity Secretary, Wendy on 400797, or any of the Charity Trustees.

The Charity’s future could be in jeopardy without the injection of new volunteer trustees and fresh ideas for the future. Without this the enterprise could fail or become moribund and what we take for granted today could tomorrow cease to exist due to lack of interest by the people for whom it exists. So, this is an appeal for your help - if you would like to know more about being a trustee of Hanna’s Field Charity and what it involves, or if you would just like to help but not be a trustee contact Wendy Thomas or Mike Plumridge at the telephone numbers below.

 

 

 

 Portrait photograph Wendy Thomas

 

Mike Plumridge

Wendy Thomas Secretary 400797

 Mike Plumridge Treasurer 400628