SSEN's quarter of a million pound boost to local communities

Communities across central southern England are benefitting from over a quarter of a million pounds in grant-funding from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN), helping them become more resilient in emergency situations and prepare for possible winter storms and flooding.

The SSEN Resilient Communities Fund is supporting 41 community groups across its network area in central southern England with awards of up to £20,000 for projects that will protect the welfare of those most vulnerable, enhance community facilities or improve communication during an emergency weather event.

Initially a two-year pilot, SSEN has pledged to extend the fund to 2023 using a proportion of the income it receives from the industry regulator Ofgem in relation to its stakeholder engagement performance. Based on 2015/16 figures, this would allow funding in the region of £2m to be distributed to community-led groups and charities in central southern England over the six-year period.

In this latest round, community groups from areas including Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Hampshire, Surrey, Wessex and South Wiltshire have all received support, with the decisions for funding made by a panel of representatives from National Energy Action, British Red Cross and Centre for Sustainable Energy.

The awards represent the specific needs of individual communities and will be used to purchase key resilience kit including defibrillators, flood equipment, generators, training, radio systems and fund repairs to buildings being used as community centres during emergencies. The funding will also enhance the work of local emergency response teams – such as the Wessex Flood Rescue Unit, the Hampshire Search and Rescue Dogs and Berkshire Lowland Search and Rescue – by enabling them to invest in much needed life-saving equipment such as boats and vehicles.

In addition to the Resilient Communities Fund, SSEN has been working closely with local communities in the south east of England, helping them create resilience plans for emergencies, such as adverse weather and possible power disruption during winter storms.

Lisa Doogan, Director of Customer Relationship Management for SSEN said: “SSEN works throughout the year to make sure it’s prepared for all that the British weather can bring – high winds, snow, lightning and flooding – and we want to help our customers and communities prepare too.

“This latest round of funding shows the diverse range of assistance needed to help boost the resilience of communities across central southern England; from generators and search and rescue vessels to the training required to work specialist life-saving equipment. The applications SSEN received showed the pride that local communities take in enabling and equipping themselves to deal with emergency situations.

“As the Resilient Communities Fund is directly linked to the performance award SSEN receives from the regulator, the more we engage with our stakeholders, the greater the financial support we can bring to the communities in which we also live and work. I’m delighted to confirm that this funding will now extend well into the next decade.”

Danni Crosland from National Energy Action is one of the members of the Resilient Communities Fund panel, who helps decide on the awards. She said:

“As a fuel poverty charity NEA is only too aware of the need to build capacity at local level to support vulnerable householders. I’m delighted to have been part of the judging panel and to help ensure that communities who need support become more resilient to the impact of severe weather.”

To find out more about the community groups, local to you, which have benefitted from this latest round of funding, please click here.

SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund will re-open for applications later in 2017. To find out more about the fund, please visit the website: ssen.co.uk/Resiliencefund/.

If customers experience a power cut this winter, they should contact SSEN on the recently launched, free-to-dial number, 105. To find out more about SSEN’s Priority Services Register, register themselves, family members or friends they should contact the dedicated team on 0800 294 3259 or visit ssen.co.uk/PriorityServices/ for more details.