SSEN launches £350,000 resilience fund to support community coronavirus response
A new £350,000 fund to support communities affected by the coronavirus pandemic is now open for applications.
Due to the significant impact on communities from the coronavirus outbreak, Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has repurposed its annual Resilient Communities Fund to offer grants of up to £3,000 for projects that will specifically support community members in vulnerable situations.
Applications are being encouraged for projects that will provide extra help to those who are self-isolating or social shielding, such as the elderly or those with underlying health conditions. Examples include a social delivery service, online advice centres or a befriending scheme.
The fund is open to community councils, parish councils, borough councils and town councils in SSEN’s network areas in the north of Scotland and central southern England. The initial funding round will close on 30 April, with additional rounds to open based on demand. Grant awards will be issued in early May to ensure timely release of funding to community groups.
In the event the fund is oversubscribed, the panel will give priority to applications which support communities that are particularly remote or isolated, contain high levels of vulnerability or low levels of resilience.
Colin Nicol, SSEN’s Managing Director, hopes the fund will make a difference as communities rally together to support those most in need:
“In keeping the power flowing, safely and reliably, SSEN will play an integral role in the communities we serve during the coronavirus pandemic. As a responsible business, we believe this role also extends to supporting communities in their own response to the crisis.
“Following positive consultation with stakeholders and independent community fund panel members, we are delighted to relaunch our Resilient Communities Fund to help fund community resilience projects that will help those most in need.
“It’s encouraging to see communities pulling together at this time and we are pleased to play a small part in that response. I’d call on all local community council, parish and town council representatives to apply for a grant where they think we can help.”
Kerry Jardine, Scottish Government’s Resilient Communities Policy Manager and Resilient Communities Fund panel member, added:
“The SSEN Resilient Communities Fund provides a significant resource for communities to enhance their resilience to the challenges that are important to them.
“Groups throughout Scotland are currently focussing their energy on supporting their communities through the risk and restrictions that Covid-19 is presenting. We are seeing communities all over Scotland come together to develop their resilience to these challenges.
“This fund can be used to support community groups in their immediate activities and thinking ahead to their community recovering and building on their resilience to future challenges.”
Paul Bright, CEO of Citizens Advice Hampshire and Resilient Communities Fund panel member, said:
“Our service is experiencing an unprecedented surge in enquiries, many from people self-isolating or concerned as they have underlying health issues. They need help with debt, housing and financial worries. This fund will allow communities across south central England to help look after the most vulnerable. I am delighted and impressed that SSEN has extended their commitment to social responsibility and have raised the bar in offering to develop such a quick response.”
Since its launch in 2015, SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund has provided over £2.4 million to 362 local community projects to build resilience and protect those most vulnerable. The criteria for this year’s fund was changed following consultation with SSEN stakeholder groups, who strongly supported opening the fund early and targeting coronavirus response.
For more information on this year’s Resilient Communities Fund or to apply, please visit ssen.co.uk/resiliencefund.
To check who your network operator is and to see if your community, parish or town council is eligible for SSEN funding, visit ssen.co.uk/whoismynetworkoperator.
For more information on how SSEN is protecting its customers, colleagues and network during the coronavirus pandemic, please visit ssen.co.uk/covid19response/.