OxSAR expands its search and rescue operations thanks to SSEN fund

Rescue team working from boat

OxSAR volunteers take to the water at Henley-on-Thames to test some of the latest underwater kit purchased through SSEN's Resilient Communities Fund

Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue (OxSAR) will be expanding its life-saving search and rescue operations in 2019, thanks to £11,000 of funding from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN).

OxSAR applied to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund, which provides up to £20,000 to applicants seeking to boost resilience projects in their communities in the north of Scotland and central southern England, to pay for water incident equipment and training that will enhance the vital work it does across Oxfordshire and beyond.

When a vulnerable person goes missing, the OxSAR team is called by Thames Valley Police and can mobilise a group of volunteers within an hour. Its vehicles and boats are then at the centre of the search activity; where the search is planned, where the operational details are organised and as an area to hold all the necessary equipment for specialised searches including water rescue in river or floodwaters.

Previously, through the Resilient Communities Fund, SSEN has assisted OxSAR to part-purchase and kit out its vehicle, which helps put the group at the forefront of UK Search and Rescue operations with its search management technology and increased space for vital medical and rescue equipment.

Ian Reynolds, SSEN’s Head of Region for the Ridgeway area where OxSAR is based, said: "I’m delighted to see Oxfordshire Lowland Search and Rescue expanding its activity through our Resilient Communities Fund. This organisation and the essential service they provide is well recognised across the region and it’s wonderful to be able to help it expand its kit and skills through this grant; the benefits this brings to our communities can’t be underestimated.

"Our goal through the Resilient Communities Fund is to help our customers build their own resilience. This is an excellent example of how the funding can be used and, for SSEN, another way of showing that our customers and their welfare is at the heart of all we do."

OxSAR chairman, David Woodgate added: "We’re delighted to have received this funding from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks and for their support of the work that we do across Oxfordshire and beyond; all of which depends entirely on funding, donations and volunteers.

"This grant is enabling us to further build on the technology and training that allows us to provide essential, life-saving assistance to communities and emergency services alike."

Twenty-six local community groups in central southern England are benefiting from this latest round of SSEN funding, to help them build their resilience in emergency situations and adverse weather.

Set up in 2014 as a two-year pilot scheme, 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 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.

SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund will re-open for applications in the spring of 2019. To find out more about the fund, please visit the website:
www.ssen.co.uk/Resiliencefund/