Horham Village Hall
Fit Villages is a popular, well established project run by Suffolk Sport across the county. The project is supported by Suffolk County Council and Sport England and is part of Suffolk's aim to be the Most Active County. The project plays a big part in helping to combat social isolation as well as improving physical activity levels of communities in rural Suffolk.
We have been working with the small village of Horham in Mid-Suffolk , who have transformed the Old School into a vibrant, friendly hub of activity which involves the whole community. Run by a group of committed volunteers we hear their story about the difference the new Village Hall has made.
The Old School Horham is a Victorian school building that was closed 80 years ago. Since then it has been used as a community building but it has really come alive in the last few years with a dedicated group of volunteers.
Three years ago, in response to requests from the village for a daytime activity, we started a weekly coffee morning which has been a huge success. We regularly welcome between 35-40 locals which just proved to us how much this was needed.
The local population is predominantly older people, many of whom no longer like to venture out at night. Bus services are very limited and the importance of local activities and facilities cannot be overestimated. We therefore looked to into what else we could do to help locals
The daytime use of The Old School encouraged our customers to think of other ways they would like to use the building and again in response to the locals we started free computer lessons. We applied for a grant from the National Lottery to buy computers for anyone in Horham and surrounding villages that needs a little help with IT and social media skills. We run these sessions in conjunction with the Coffee Morning helping with anything from using Skype to keep in better touch with families to ordering their online food shop.
The next request was for a Yoga class. This was set up with help from Fit Villages and has been a great success; the group have really noticed the health benefits and the instructor tailors the classes perfectly to the groups capabilities.
We also have a licensed bar that opens two evenings a week and on Sunday lunchtimes when the hall is used for Step Dance and traditional music practise. Once a month we run an art and craft session, traditional music session and a Rapper Dance. We are hoping to set up an outdoors games area with the support of Fit Villages for all groups to make use of in the summer months.
It's fantastic to have such a busy timetable in a small Suffolk village like Horham. All the activities have not only benefited many of the users but also the volunteers who help run this beautiful building; helping to combat isolation, loneliness and improving health problems. The next steps for us are to look at improving the buildings accessibility and general maintenance to make everyone's visit as enjoyable as possible.