Hundreds of Surrey residents supported during pandemic with help from SSEN funding

Hundreds of vulnerable and elderly residents of a Surrey town are being helped through the coronavirus pandemic with an award from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ (SSEN) Resilient Communities Fund. 

In March, SSEN repurposed its Resilient Communities Fund (RCF) making £320,000 available to support local efforts to help those most vulnerable during the coronavirus pandemic. Godalming Town Council saw the opportunity to use the funding to support the vital work of the Meath Epilepsy Charity and the Farncombe Day Centre, and their successful application resulted in a £3,000 award from SSEN in May. 

Since that time, the funding has enabled the Godalming organisation to set up an isolation unit at The Meath Epilepsy Charity’s residential care home, where 82 adult residents have complex epilepsy, severe physical and learning disabilities, and serious underlying health conditions. Setting up the fully functioning isolation unit at the home has been vital to contain any potential spread of the coronavirus to some of Godalming’s most vulnerable residents and their carers.  

Helen Jackson, Marketing Manager for the Meath Epilepsy Charity, said: "We are hugely grateful to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund and were thrilled to have been awarded £3,000 to fund essential - but unplanned – coronavirus related care provision costs. This funding has made an extremely positive difference to us during a period when vital income has been thwarted by the cancellation of fundraising events and the closure of our social enterprise café and shop. 

“The SSEN award has enabled us to implement our coronavirus plan to protect the health and wellbeing of the vulnerable adults we support, in addition to that of our dedicated care workers who work so hard to support them in the these difficult times.” 

The SSEN Resilient Communities Fund award was also used to assist the Farncombe Day Centre when they stepped up to the plate to offer the Community Meals Service; providing a hot, freshly-cooked two course meal every day to vulnerable residents in the Godalming and Chiddingfold areas. 

During lockdown, the team were able to deliver over 2,000 hot meals across the local area and Annette Clarke, Manager for the Farncombe Day Centre, said: “The funding from the SSEN Resilient Communities Fund has enabled us to purchase trays for the meal service, which is a lot of money for the centre.  

“These trays are vital for the service as they keep the food hot and enable it to travel safely, and we feel so fortunate to have been able to adapt our service to support our local community.” 

Ian Drummond, SSEN’s Head of Region, added: “I’d like to commend the Meath Epilepsy Charity and the Farncombe Day Centre for the way they have utilised their Resilient Communities Fund award to benefit both organisations, and the many people in Godalming and Chiddingfold who rely on their services. 

“With the assistance of Godalming Town Council, they have provided a substantial support system throughout the coronavirus pandemic and I am proud of the small role SSEN has had in their efforts.” 

Earlier this year, successful applicants from community, parish, town and borough councils were awarded up to £3,000 each for projects that supported vulnerable community members, enabled volunteers to support community coronavirus initiatives, provide PPE to vulnerable and frontline workers, run community befriending schemes and improve community communication. 

Since its launch in 2015, SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund has now provided over £2.7 million to 538 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.