Village Hall Committee Annual Report

This report has two distinct sections, before Covid and after the outbreak.

Until March 16th 2020, the village hall had continued to be a well-used activity venue.

Yoga classes had become very popular and our hall is perfect for them. We had Hay Yoga on Tuesday and Thursday mornings; Hatha Yoga on Tuesday evenings and we’d also had two Hay Yoga workshops on Saturdays with more in prospect.

Pilates classes on Monday nights have now been running for three years and the JUMP ballet classes for children after school on Wednesdays for four years. These activities have provided hugely valuable income streams.

Bookings for parties and wedding receptions were continuing strongly. The hall looks amazingly special when dressed up for these events due to the high standards of maintenance and cleanliness that we provide, along with our outstanding facilities above and beyond other halls in the area.
Five-star reviews keep coming in for us on the Halls for Hire website.

Facilities
Our modern kitchen facilities are now well established and have proved very popular, winning the approval of professional caterers at many of the events this year.

Free Wi-Fi in the hall, installed this year, adds even more rental potential, extending our potential user market and we thank the Parish Council for their contribution towards the cost.

The latest addition to our facilities, in January, was a new projector unit and a large screen kindly donated in memory of Val Duck by Peter Duck and his family. The family bought the equipment and installed it in the village hall on 26th February to enable a live relay of Val’s funeral service from St Peter’s Church. More than 100 mourners filled the church and 50 more watched in the village hall. We sent the Ducks our warmest condolences and many thanks.

Events
As a committee we had regular fund raising events continuing to operate our policy of a 50:50 split of the proceeds with a chosen charity.

During the year we held another Tea for Tinnitus, a Quiz Night for Acorns Children’s Hospice and an Xmas Fayre for Alzheimer’s Research UK. I would like to thank everyone who helped out in some way for making these events a great success. In total, we raised £445 for the charities and the same for the village hall.

Unfortunately, not all initiatives were successful. The proposed quarterly “Popup” restaurant did not go ahead due to opposition from some residents with concerns about parking and unfounded fears of an influx of outsiders coming into the village. As a committee, we felt this was a great shame; this was an initiative to try to raise some community spirit and tackle the rising issue of loneliness within the community. Indeed at the time of cancellation all bookings were from Abbots Morton residents.

Support for the hall from local residents has continued to grow and we look forward to further involvement by residents in the coming year. If you shop online, one easy way to help is to register with EasyFundraising and name ‘Abbots Morton Village Hall’ as the cause you want to support. Retailers pay a small percentage of your spend to our account and to date our 23 EasyFundraisers have raised £680.

Amazon have also started making donations through Amazon Smile… and to date they’ve sent us £11.74.

Maintenance
New energy-efficient lights have been installed in the village hall. The old fluorescent strip lights throughout the building were replaced with LED strips bringing electricity savings of around 70%. We are grateful to Wychavon District Council for a grant of £1,359 through its New Homes Bonus scheme and to Abbots Morton Parish Council for a grant of £500. We would also like to thank County Councillor Anthony Hopkins for a £300 grant from his Divisional Fund and to our village hall committee member, Sarah Dykes for her gift of £150 towards the project which cost a total of £2,653. The village hall funds contributed £344.50.

Your support for the village hall brings in essential income which we put to good use in maintaining and improving the fabric of the building. In July we employed WomenBuild to repaint all the wooden window frames and the woodwork at the main entrance.

Regular servicing of necessary systems and safety tests continue in their timely fashion.

Our next project is to replace the outdated and inefficient heating system in the hall. It’s a major project and research is currently underway to make sure we make the best choice.

Committee
We are delighted to have two new Trustees.

We first welcomed Pat Willingale to the Village Hall Committee. Pat’s husband Martin, who sits on the Parish Council, then agreed to be a Parish Council representative on the CH Committee. Husband and wife teams can be very effective and we know that the duo from Chestnut cottage will bring humour, enthusiasm and expertise to the committee.

We are eternally grateful to Sarah Dykes for taking on the role as Treasurer. With her usual efficiency, Sarah has kept our accounts fully auditable, with regular spreadsheets and cost awareness projects and updates. Many thanks again to Tim Jones, our auditor, for the end of year audit/ balance.

As always the unfading commitment of the Pembertons to the success of the VH does not go un-noted. Colin takes on more than his fair share as PRO and Bookings Officer, regularly showing our facilities to potential hirers, locking and unlocking at events. Lynne, as Secretary, keeps us up to date and informed of local and UK VH initiatives, making sure we meet our obligations.

We would like to say a big Thank You to Antony Bunce, who has stepped down from the village hall committee because of other commitments. We’re grateful for Antony’s insights and particularly all his work over the years in bringing us Band Nights and Indian Summers.

Thanks also go to a former resident Phil Farmiloe who, although now living in Abberton, continues to pay for the springtime cutting of our main hedge. Thank you Phil.

Coronavirus Covid – 19
On March 5th, aware of our responsibilities to provide a safe space for users, we put up notices on the entrance doors urging all users to go straight to the washrooms on entry and thoroughly wash their hands, and similarly to wash hands before leaving. The Hirers were responsible for using clinical-grade wipes which we provided to wipe down all door and toilet handles before they left. This was a responsible approach to leave the hall in a condition that the next users would like to see.

However, eleven days later on March 16th, we took the decision to close the hall. At the same time users were cancelling their bookings.

This has obviously has had repercussions for our finances. Some hirers have been happy for us to hold on to the deposits they had paid in anticipation of holding their event at some point in the future. Others have had their deposits and fee refunded.

Our income loss, assuming we don’t re-open before the end of November, will be £2,376.
We are continuing to pay bills. Since we closed on March 16th we have paid out a total of £367 and we will obviously continue to pay further bills as they come in.

We have always been working on the basis that our annual running costs are at least £2,000 and we had, until Covid, been keeping our heads well above water, indeed investing surpluses into new developments and improvements to the hall.

As of Monday this week we had £2,023 in our main account and we faced an ongoing depletion of our funds.

Earlier this month, to help small businesses, the Government set up a one-off COVID 19 Small Business Grant of £10,000. We were advised by Wychavon District Council that village halls were eligible to register for it and we duly registered for it on 13th May.

I’m very pleased to say that the £10,000 grant was deposited in the village hall’s Treasurer’s Account this Tuesday morning (26th May).

Our account now stands at £12,023 and the Instant Access Account stands at £718.

The grant gives us financial security and shields us from the potential for substantial loss of income from Covid closure, which would have seriously threatened our plans for major investment in a new, energy-efficient heating and hot water.

Summary
It had been another year of progress, quality upgrading and financial stability. We have handled the Covid closure well and we will now be working intently to ensure a safe and smooth re-opening of the hall, whenever that may be.

Melanie Clarke
Chair, Abbots Morton Village Hall

Parochial Church Council Annual Report

Every year is a memorable year for St Peter’s church but this year more than most.

It’s really surprising how much goes on in the church and in the community and it’s only when it all comes to a sudden halt that it strikes you quite how much activity there is.

Coronavirus Covid-19 forced us to close the church on March 17th 2020, instantly halting the use of the church building for services and prayer and forcing the cancellation of community events in the village hall such as the Flower Festival Lunch and Harvest Supper.

Undaunted, the Rector, the Rev Canon Richard Thorniley and the Rev Chris Sheehan, have used the internet to continue holding services. Daily morning services are held via Zoom with anyone who wishes to join in being able to take part.

Sunday Services have been constructed each week to serve the ARCH Benefice and the Inkberrow group of churches, working together as the North Avon Group. Contributions (prayers, readings, sermon and hymns) are recorded in individuals’ homes and sent via Dropbox to Brian Telford at Inkberrow who edits them together into a video available on YouTube each Sunday.

Spiritually the church has been able to continue its mission. Financially, Covid-19 has been a big blow.

Income from collections at services stopped instantly. Our big two fundraising events, the Flower Festival Lunch and the Harvest Supper will not take place this year leaving a substantial hole in our income , while we, of course, have ongoing costs in running the church building and churchyard and in contributing our Parish Share to the Worcester Diocese to go towards the salaries of clergy. Every year we need to raise in excess of £10,000.

We still plan to replace the steps at the entrance to the churchyard. We were planning to apply to the Diocese for a Faculty for permission to proceed, but that has been placed on hold while Government restrictions on church use still exist.

So what had been happening before Covid-19?

No More Rising Damp
The biggest development of the year was the French Drains project, costing almost £10,000, which was started in the summer 2019 and completed in December. It was vital to stop damp rising, particularly on the north side of the church and there are already visible improvements to the condition of the walls.
The old concrete-lined drains were installed in the 1950’s and had broken down. The new soakaway system is more in keeping with this ancient building and more sustainable in the long term. Plastic guttering has also been replaced, where necessary, with a cast iron system similar to that in place in previous times.

We are enormously grateful to a number of individuals who very generously made donations to the cost of the work.

It’s been a busy year for our churchwarden Kevin Clarke, overseeing the French Drains Project and I would like to express here our gratitude to his service

Finances
I would like to thank two people in our Financial Department… to Lynne Pemberton who has carried out the role of Treasurer since Terry Brewster stood down in March, presenting financial reports to PCC meetings with the solid support of Tim Jones who draws up those reports and so brilliantly looks after all our financial workings. Tim has now taken on the role of Treasurer and we don’t know where we would be without him.

Floral Fanfare
Our Flower Fund pays for bouquets of flowers or plants to give a morale boost and a pick-me-up for those in the parish who’ve been ill enough to have spent time in hospital. We’d prefer never to have to use it but life’s not like that and every recipient has told us how much they have appreciated the gift. Roma Jones looks after our Flower Fund and we give her our grateful thanks.

Flower Arranging: we thank so many people who take their turn to create the floral arrangements which make the church look so beautiful. Peggy Clarke has been in charge of the rota of those volunteers for many years but this year she decided it was time for someone else to take on the task. We are enormously grateful to Peggy, a stalwart of the PCC. We’re pleased to say that, although she is not a member of the PCC, Gill Barker has taken on the role.

Flower Festival and Lunch: The 2019 Flower Festival once again saw the church beautifully decorated and we’d like to congratulate everyone who contributed to this floral display. The annual Flower Festival lunch was really splendid. Huge thanks go to organiser Lynne Pemberton and to Roma Jones for her innovative way of serving Coronation chicken on a bed of little gem lettuce. The lunch made £480.13 which was a little down on the previous year’s £515.50

Harvest Supper was a very good evening with 63 attending including some new faces in the community. Our thanks once again to Lynne Pemberton and all who helped in any way. Bar profits were up, food costs were slightly up but raffle profits were down by £300. Total profit was £1,035. (compared to £1,463 the previous year).

Christmas Time
Carols on the Green went into the church because the amount of rain we had in December meant the village green was not in a good enough state. There were a large number of singers in church and a fabulous atmosphere.

The Carol and Gift Service was enhanced by the making of Christingles. The candlelight brought a special atmosphere to the church and a huge number of gifts were taken away for distribution by Action for Children.

The Christmas Eve service is an essential feature of the year was well attended

Other Services
As well as family services every fortnight and Holy Communion services each fortnight St Peter’s holds special services at various times of the year.

The Remembrance Service was led jointly by Lynda Payne and Colin Pemberton and thanks were given to Terry Brewster for the many Remembrance Services he has superbly led over the years.
Mothering Sunday was delightful and well attended with posies of flowers distributed by children to mothers in the congregation.
A Rogation “walking service”, was held in May, working our way through the village, giving thanks for the elements of creation such as livestock, field, orchards and gardens.

Open Church
The PCC would like to thank all those people in the parish who diligently and willingly lock and unlock the church on a daily basis. That so many are prepared to be on our unlocking rota is a heartening sign of a community giving to others and our thanks go to Lynda Payne for her work in gathering people together onto the locking rota. Fewer and fewer churches remain open all day every day and it’s something we aim to continue at St Peter’s. Sadly Covid 19 enforced a closure.

New Parish Giving Scheme
The PCC voted to join this relatively new scheme of making monthly donations to St Peter’s by Direct Debit instead of putting money into an offertory plate. It was agreed that members of the PCC would trial it initially to iron out any snags, then we would seek to encourage others to take part eg those at the moment doing covenants, replacing their Standing Orders.

Rev Richard
For two month’s at the end of 2019 our Rector, Rev Canon Richard Thorniley, embarked on a sabbatical: Rev Chris Sheehan took on the cover required during Richard’s absence. .

The Year Ahead
The coming year should see us starting work on the next big project, the long desired replacement of the main steps. A lot of preparatory design work has already been done by our architects and a Faculty application will now be made as soon as we can. This project will cost in the region of £8,000 and we hope for generous support from the community.

Colin Pemberton
PCC Secretary

About the Parochial Church Council
The Parochial Church Council of St Peter’s, Abbots Morton is a charity which cooperates with the incumbent in promoting in the parish the whole mission of the church… pastoral, evangelistic, social and ecumenical (PCC (Powers) Measure 1956). Members:
• The Reverend: Canon Richard Thorniley
• Churchwarden: Kevin Clarke
• Elected members: Lynda Payne, Lynne Pemberton, Colin Pemberton, Peggy Clarke, Roma Jones, Terry Brewster.
• Treasurer: Tim Jones
• Electoral Roll Officer: Lynne Pemberton
• Honorary Secretary: Colin Pemberton

Coronavirus: Lockdown changes and other advice

The Prime Minister announced some changes to the lockdown restrictions this week which came into force on Wednesday (13 May).

The Government has produced some FAQs on what you can and cannot do to help you understand the changes.

Although the infection rate is coming down, the virus has not gone away and we all still have a responsibility to keep each other safe.

To help control the virus you must still:

  • Stay at home as much as possible
  • Work from home if you can
  • Limit contact with other people
  • Keep your distance if you go out (keep 2 metres apart where possible)
  • Wash your hands regularly, for at least 20 seconds

Do not leave home if you or anyone in your household has symptoms. You can find out more about symptoms of coronavirus and what to do if you have them on the NHS website.

It is also important you look after your mental health.

Every Mind Matters has advice on looking after your mental wellbeing.


Here 2 Help update

As of 12 May, the Here 2 Help service had received 2,504 requests for help. 385 of these were from Wychavon. Help with accessing food and medicines makes up most requests but unsurprisingly poverty is now becoming an issue that is appearing more and more.

The number of requests are going down, again as expected seven weeks into a lockdown situation, but the complexity of cases is increasing.

A new campaign is planned for Volunteer Week in early June to raise awareness of the fact Here 2 Help can offer support with more mundane tasks, such as gardening or walking the dog, as well as crisis response.

If you are aware of anyone who is vulnerable and in need, please make sure they fill in the form or call the number on the Worcestershire Here 2 Help website.


Spending time outdoors

You can now spend more time outdoors and enjoy a wider range of activities for any length of time, but you must still follow social distancing rules.

The rule changes include spending time outdoors with one member of another household, one-on-one, as long as you stay 2 metres apart at all times.

Some activities where social distancing is possible, such as tennis or golf, are now allowed as long as people stay 2 metres apart at all times.

You still cannot gather with more than one person from another household.

You also cannot:

  • Go on holiday
  • Visit and stay overnight at a holiday home or second home
  • Visit the homes of friends or family, unless it’s to help a vulnerable person for medical reasons or to take a child to another household with whom parental responsibilities are shared

You can now drive to a destination for recreation, irrespective of distance, in England. The rules are not the same in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.

If you get to a destination and you find it is so crowded that you cannot stay 2 metres apart from people, then please go somewhere else where you can.


Seek help if you are in medical need

The NHS is still open for businesses for anyone who does not have a coronavirus related medical need. The way you access this help may be different, but help is still available.

Read more advice about getting medical help at home. In a genuine life-threatening emergency you should still call 999.


District Council services

Contact Centres – these remain closed for face-to-face queries but we are still available on the phone or by email. We are reviewing this in light of the Government’s announcement this week and are making preparations to reopen when the time is right.

Public toilets – these remain closed but we are making preparations to reopen them with social distancing rules in place. We hope to make an announcement next week

Play areas – these remain closed but our parks are open

Household Recycling Centres – these are run by Worcestershire County Council. Some opened this week but with restrictions. Find out more about visiting a Household Recycling Centre during the coronavirus outbreak.

The full list of services affected is available at www.wychavon.gov.uk/coronavirus

Any changes will be published on that page.


Face coverings

The Government has also given some advice that people should use face coverings (not medical masks but a scarf or homemade fabric covering) when on public transport or in some shops or other enclosed public spaces.

Read the advice on how to make a fabric face covering at home.

Read the guidance on when and who should wear a face covering.


Recycling issues

We are starting to see used tissues and disposable gloves, masks etc appear in the recycling we are collecting from households.

Please do not put these items in with your recycling. It creates an infection risk for the workers at the sorting facility. It may also mean we are unable to recycle whole loads of recycling.

You can help by getting your recycling right. Read the list of items you can and cannot put into your household recycling.

If you or someone in your household has symptoms of coronavirus then you should put used tissues and disposable cleaning cloths in rubbish bags. Then put the bag into a second bag and tie it securely. Store it for three days before putting it in your black bin.

If on a sack collection, follow the same process and store bags separately from bags of standard household waste for three days. They can then be put out for collection together on your usual collection day.

You can dispose of other household waste as normal.


Covid-19 Memory Bank Project

The Covid-19 outbreak is undoubtedly a significant moment in human history. We are keen to capture information about what happened locally to inform future generations. That is why we have launched the Covid-19 Memory Bank.

You are encouraged to send in messages of goodwill you have received from neighbours, rainbow pictures you have drawn in support of key workers, messages of thanks you have left for key workers or received, diary entries you may have made during lockdown, video blogs, photographs, video footage, poems, songs or artwork.

The subject can be anything from how you felt during this time to the way the community pulled together, the weekly clap for our carers event, response of key workers on the frontline and the challenges or joys of home schooling.

If you have lost a loved one to this virus, you are also invited to submit a photograph and/or tribute to them.

The information received will be used in a future art project or exhibition and then handed over to the archive at The Hive or locally for preservation.

You can find out more about the project and upload any contributions you may have at www.wychavon.gov.uk/memorybank


Opening of schools and colleges

You may have seen media reports of schools being asked to reopen for some pupils from 1 June. Those of you with school age children will no doubt have many questions. The Government has published an FAQs list. Read more about the Government plan for reopening schools.


Self-Employment Income Support Scheme

If you are self-employed then the Government’s Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) is now open for applications. Everyone eligible will receive a grant by 25 May or within six days of a completed claim. Grants are worth 80% of average monthly trading profits.

Read more information on the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme


Financial support for you

If you are struggling financially then we would advise you to make a claim for Universal Credit, Council Tax Support and other benefits you may be eligible for.

There is more information on the coronavirus employments and benefits page.


Help paying your Council Tax

If you are of working age and already receiving Council Tax Support you will get a one off reduction of up to £150. This will be applied automatically to your bill.

You can apply online for Council Tax Support if you are struggling to pay your bill.

More information is available on our Benefits and Council Tax page.

Even if you are not eligible for Council Tax Support, you still may be able to defer your payments for a short period, or spread them over 12 months instead of ten.

Please contact our team by emailing Revenues@southworcestershirerevenues.gov.uk or call 03004 560560 to discuss your circumstances and they will do their best to help you.


Support for businesses

We have paid out support payments totalling more than £25.7million to more than 2,200 businesses.  If you are a business and have yet to apply, find out if you are eiigible and more information on our Business Rates Reliefs page.

The Government’s furlough scheme is now open meaning businesses can apply for help to pay up to 80% of the wages of staff.

www.businesssupport.gov.uk has details of all the support available to businesses.


Download free audio and e-books

Worcestershire County Council’s libraries still aren’t allowed to open but you can download e-books and audio books for free.


Funding for charities, arts and community groups

There is a range of funding support available to community groups and charities who are affected by the COVID-19 outbreak themselves or who are working to support vulnerable people impacted by COVID-19.  This includes funding support for arts, heritage and sports projects and grants for organisations supporting vulnerable people.

Visit our Support for community groups and charities page for more information. We update this page regularly so please keep checking back if there is nothing available for your charity or group currently.


Help for those in need

If you are in need of support and do not already have help from friends, family, the voluntary sector or adult social care then please fill in the form on the Worcestershire Here 2 Help website.


Beware fake or unlicensed medicines

There are an increasing number of products being advertised to the general public claiming to either help prevent or treat Covid-19. These include ‘divine cleansing oils’ and ‘antiviral misting sprays’.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA)  has issued a warning not to buy these products. Read the announcement from the MHRA on fake or unlicensed coronavirus medicines.

The best way for you to protect yourself against Covid-19 is to follow the official guidance.