About Marcham Community Group
Marcham has been without a useable village hall since September 2004 when its 100-year-old village hall, The Institute, was closed by its owner, the Anson Trust. The Trust was set up by the sisters of Arthur Anson, the original benefactor of the hall and the village playing field, and was given an endowment of property in the village. Over the years the property portfolio was run down and eventually the Anson Trust ran out of funds to keep the Institute open. Since then the Trust has been trying to use its remaining assets, the village-centre Institute and playing field, to create new facilities for the village. It believed its only option was to sell part of these to a developer and use the proceeds to build and endow new facilities on the northern edge of the village on land it would purchase.
Marcham Community Group (MCG)
Marcham Community Group first came together informally in the spring of 2010 when a number of people felt that there were other ways of providing community recreation and leisure facilities, and that more options would be available to a community charitable organisation capable of independent fundraising. MCG is now a registered charity and a company limited by guarantee. Membership is open to all local residents for a low annual subscription.
Although MCG has community leisure facilities as its aim, it is concerned with more than bricks and mortar. When the Institute closed many of the communal events in the village that depended on using it were discontinued. Through its fundraising events and information meetings MCG is actively encouraging the revival of some of the social life the village has lost.
Understanding and representing community views on leisure facilities
As a membership organisation with elected directors, MCG represents its members’ views. On important issues, and to report back to members and seek their views, MCG holds open meetings to which non-members are welcome.
When Taylor Wimpey and the Anson Trust proposed new leisure facilities funded by a housing development, MCG took on the role of community consultation and feedback on the proposals as they developed. A combination of questionnaires and users’ forums gave the views of interested members of the community.
About a year ago, MCG were instrumental in setting up what was is now the Community Facilities Group (CFG) that brings together all local organisations, including the Parish Council and the Anson Trust. The CFG seeks to ensure that all potential users have a voice on proposals for new leisure facilities.
MCG realised early on that outside fundraising depended on Marcham having a Community Led Plan (CLP). MCG worked jointly with Marcham Parish Council on developing and producing the CLP that was published in September 2013.
Community events and fund-raising
MCG has arranged a number of community events over its 3½ year existence, ranging from a Burns Supper to a village garage sale. Among them was the Great Marcham Jubilee Weekend – 13 events over 4 days marking the queen’s jubilee in June 2012. As well as providing activities for all ages, it raised over £3200 for local and wider good causes. MCG’s most recent community event was Apple Day in October 2013.