ACRE looks to future with restructure
by Claire McGine, Head of Communications

Campaigning charity ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) has undergone a restructure to rise to the challenges of a tough funding climate, its board of trustees has announced.

ACRE, formed in 1987, is the umbrella body for the 38 county-based local development agencies who make up the Rural Community Action Network (RCAN). Its members are ACRE’s eyes and ears at grassroots level in rural England, helping the charity to shape and influence Government policy.

Chair Sue Shaw said the decision to restructure with five redundancies following the retirement of ACRE’s chief executive was taken to ensure the charity had a vibrant and sustainable future.

“We will be working hard to get the message out there that rural communities deserve a fair deal and demonstrating how communities are finding their own solutions to a range of issues, from setting up transport schemes to saving their village shops.”

From April 1,ACRE, based in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, will be led by a team of three senior managers, supported by six full-time staff. As part of its new financial strategy, it plans to move to smaller premises in the heart of the market town.

Following the restructure, Ms Shaw added, ACRE will be working more closely with the members of RCAN, who collectively employ almost 1,000 staff. Ms Shaw said: “It is a tough economic climate for the charitable sector and we have seen a number of fellow organisations go through similar restructures in recent months.

“The board wanted to ensure ACRE was in the best possible shape to carry on its work in supporting communities and enabling the voice of rural England to be heard at the highest level in Government.

“We are confident our new financial strategy will help us to continue to deliver on our contracts and focus on the issues that matter to rural families, businesses and workers.

“We will be working hard to get the message out there that rural communities deserve a fair deal and demonstrating how communities are finding their own solutions to a range of issues, from setting up transport schemes to saving their village shops.”

ACRE is now into its third year of working closely with Defra (Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs). This year, the charity will be focusing on rural economic growth and reporting to policy makers on how rural communities face challenges accessing services such as health, transport, affordable housing and broadband. It will also be advising on how Government policies, such as welfare reform, affect rural dwellers.

It is also working with DECC (Department of Energy and Climate Change), energy charities and suppliers on a variety of projects to combat fuel poverty and promote renewable energy.

In addition. ACRE provides a support and information service for the advisers to England’s 10,000 village halls and community buildings, supported by insurance giant AON UK Ltd.