Yorkshire’s village halls responding to the climate crisis

31 January 2020

This article originally published by Zurich Municipal for Village Halls Week 

Failure to adapt to climate change is the number one risk of the decade according to the 2020 Global Risks Report by WEF. As of October 2019, 65% (265 out of 408) of district, county, unitary and metropolitan councils have declared a climate emergency. Thousands of charities are making changes to respond to environmental concerns.

To celebrate Village Halls Week, we are focussing on how rural communities are addressing climate issues. One of the halls featured was Gilling East from North Yorkshire, who have invested in low-carbon improvements and created hubs for people to make changes locally.

Gilling East Village Hall

Gilling East Village Hall in North Yorkshire is in the former village school. It was built in 1894, stopped operating as a school in the 1980s and opened as the village hall in 2010. Simon Harrison, treasurer explains what the hall is doing about its own environmental impact.

“When we took the building on it was in poor state of repair. The old storage heaters needed replacing so we decided to upgrade to something more ecological. As we have outside space, we chose ground source heating system, which involved burying hundreds of metres of coiled pipe in deep trenches. The hard work was done by community volunteers and a professional installation company. The heating system is both efficient and quiet, and electricity costs are low.

“We try and avoid waste where we can. For example, the vast majority of the kitchen equipment is second hand. The crockery was donated through two corporate refurbishments so rather than it go to landfill, it came to us. The hall is a local donation point for recycling printer ink cartridges.

“We run a bric-a-brac sale each year which helps unwanted items to find new homes – along the lines of one person’s rubbish is another’s treasure! This event is always popular with regulars looking out for when the next sale is.

“In the last few years we have become aware of a growing interest in what individuals can do to help. Last autumn we ran an eco information fair in the hall. We welcomed stalls from local organisations and providers including our wildlife trust, a composting charity, a local vegbox scheme, local projects looking at flood prevention and an inventor showcasing his solar powered beeswax extraction system! We were really pleased with the turnout as it attracted people from all around the local area, not just our village.

“This spring we’ll hold another fair, focussing on gardening for wildlife. We’ll launch our bird feeding area, near to our bug hotel. We hope that these will become a talking point for people of all ages. This year we are also installing swift boxes as there are a number of swifts in our area.

“As a committee we will continue to run the hall as a community resource which is eco friendly and as sustainable as possible.”