Northamptonshire ACRE celebrates 75 years of helping people in rural communities

The charity works with communities, village halls and parish councils to support rural residents

Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:32 pm
Updated Friday, 23rd July 2021, 2:34 pm
Elaine O'Leary is the chief executive of Northamptonshire ACRE which owns the Hunsbury Hill Centre (right).

A Northamptonshire charity which helps people in rural communities is celebrating its 75th anniversary.

Northamptonshire ACRE was set up on July 26, 1946 with the aim of supporting rural communities in the county.

The charity is a community development organisation, supporting parish councils, village halls and community groups to help them thrive, be inclusive and economically active.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Phipps Brewery labels designed for ACRE's 75th year.

The work covers a range of topics from affordable rural housing to assisting groups to set up a community shop or pub.

Elaine O’Leary, chief executive of ACRE, said: “Our history is important to us.

“It’s important that we have been there for rural communities for support for the last 75 years, when they need advice or help.

“It is important that rural communities are heard as they can easily be overlooked.

“Over the last few years we have managed to raise the profile of the charity again and I am proud about the expanding areas of work we have covered.”

During the last few years much of the focus has been on several key areas: setting up and supporting good neighbour schemes; support for the many village hall and community centre members, the issue of rural food insecurity and climate change.

These issues have become even more relevant during the last 18 months as the charity helped communities to navigate the Covid-19 pandemic.

Elaine added: “Things have changed a lot during the pandemic.

“Before March 2020, we supported villages by helping to set up community shops or helping with affordable houses.

“When the pandemic hit, great neighbour schemes became vital.

“Local people and volunteers all helped to deliver food parcels, which highlighted the food security issue.

“A lot of people can’t afford food, and people who can afford food could not access it if there isn’t a village shop and they don’t drive.”

The charity also owns the Hunsbury Hill centre with 13 acres of land, which it wants to renovate so it can fulfill wellbeing activities.

“It’s a grade II listed building but some parts need a lot of work, but we want to turn into a real beacon for the charity and community,” Elaine continued.

“We aim to do this within the next five years.”

To celebrate the 75th anniversary, staff will have a small gathering at the Hunsbury Hill Centre with drinks and cake on its birthday on Monday (July 26).

There are also a number of free online talks during the anniversary week, available to the public, more information about which can be found on the charity’s website.