RURAL communities needing to repair or refurbish local buildings can get a helping hand from a £700,000 Defra funding pot.
The Rural Community Buildings Loan Fund, managed by Action with Communities in Rural England (Acre), can help groups renovate buildings such as village halls, church halls and community centres.
The loans, which average around £15,000, can help groups meet their fund-raising targets and win cash from other sources. Larger loans are also considered however.
Cathy Russell, village halls adviser at the Community Council of Staffordshire, a member of the Acre network, said: "The fund is a real boon for communities because it allows work to be done immediately, bringing instant benefits.
"The loan process is simple and we can use our in-depth knowledge of managing community buildings to help guide and support applicants.
"Village halls are at the heart of rural communities but the majority of the 10,000 across England were built before 1970 and some are in need of a facelift or major renovation.
"We know how hard it is for communities to raise funds for projects and the availability of a flexible loan can make all the difference."
Any groups interested in applying can find out more information by calling Cathy on 01785 242525, ext 206.