VILLAGE HALL: In desperate need of funds

Tom Bell, from Northern Gas Networks, and  Christine Nicholls, from Community Action Northumberland, get involved at the inaugural Warm Hub event at Crookham.
Tom Bell, from Northern Gas Networks, and Christine Nicholls, from Community Action Northumberland, get involved at the inaugural Warm Hub event at Crookham.

I was delighted to read your report last week of our village hall’s highly successful Warm Hub cooked lunch for 10 people, sponsored and supported by Community Action Northumberland and Northern Gas Networks.

A generous donation from NGN has helped CAN, using our ‘pilot’ lunch, to begin a campaign to recruit more halls and centres across rural Northumberland county where thousands of elderly, sick and fuel-poor neighbours can enjoy a hot, subsidised meal in warm, friendly surroundings.

Sadly, despite our pride in being chosen as the project’s ‘launch pad’, Crookham village hall is unlikely to be able to repeat the experience.

While the numbers turning up for the meal prove the need for such a scheme, allow me – as one of the volunteers who cooked for and served our guests – to illustrate the difficulties which make a repeat invitation impracticable.

We cook on old domestic stoves kindly donated by people when they upgraded their own kitchens.

Parts of the building are dilapidated and desperately require renovating.

Our roof is letting in water, there is no proper disabled access and no hot water to either of the toilets.

While thriving and active, Crookham itself is home to a largely elderly community which depends on the busy village hall as its own ‘hub’.

Ours is a village hall which dedicates part of its flourishing activities to charity, home and abroad, and to helping others.

But it would be foolish and ultimately fatal to ignore our own need for self-survival.

Without funding, this essential resource will cease to exist and all of our lives will be the poorer for it.