New Forest East MP calls on local groups to apply for £20,000 grant to improve community resilience

The MP for New Forest East, Dr Julian Lewis is urging community groups, charities and not-for-profit organisations to take advantage of Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ grant-fund that supports community resilience improvements.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has set aside £220,000 - that will be awarded in individual grants of up to £20,000 - to fund projects across its central southern England network distribution area, including the New Forest, and applications will remain open until 23 May 2019. 

SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund has been helping local organisations for the last four years, allocating £2.13 million to 325 projects during this time. The 2018 fund alone saw two projects operating in Mr Lewis’ constituency benefitting from combined funding of around £30,000 - nearly £10,000 awarded to Hampshire Search and Rescue Dogs to purchase a drone and thermal imagining camera to assist their search operations, and a grant of £20,000 given to Wessex 4 x 4 response to enable them to purchase much-needed communications and IT equipment. 

The fund will support projects that achieve one of the following criteria:  

  1. Vulnerability – to protect the welfare of vulnerable community members through enhancing their resilience and improving community participation and effectiveness.
  2. Resilience for Emergency Events – to enhance community facilities, services and communication specifically to support the local response in the event of a significant emergency event.

 Julian Lewis MP said: “Across the New Forest area, I see incredible work being carried out by charities, community groups and not-for-profit organisations, and I’m aware that many of them operate on limited budgets. That is why I am welcoming this latest round of funding through SSEN and encouraging groups within my constituency to apply to the scheme before the closing date on 23 May.

“Several local charities have benefited from previous SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund; an award of up to £20,000 can make a huge difference to a community and so I want to encourage interested parties across my constituency to find out how SSEN’s funding can assist them in their endeavours. I urge the fantastic charities that operate in New Forest to see if they are eligible on SSEN’s website, and apply while the fund is open, to enhance resilience across the area.”

Gareth Shields, Community Investment Manager for SSEN, said: “Our previous funding rounds have shown a diverse range of successful applicants and we’d really like to encourage communities who may not have not applied before to come forward with their resilience projects. 

"We are encouraging applications that will directly impact vulnerable customers and make a real difference to local communities by helping them build their overall resilience.”

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.

Guidelines and applications forms are available on SSEN’s website: www.ssen.co.uk/RCF/England/ with a full report on the fund available here - https://www.ssen.co.uk/RCF/

The 2019 fund is particularly focused on projects helping vulnerable or isolated people living in SSEN’s network areas, with applications of up to £20,000 to be considered by an independent fund panel. The closing date for applications is 23 May 2019, with decisions on awards to be made by September 2019.