Denham Parish Council supports vulnerable residents through pandemic with SSEN funding

Funding from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has enabled a group of volunteers to support vulnerable residents shielding and self-isolating in their Buckinghamshire village during the coronavirus lockdown. 

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. Denham Parish Council received an award of £3,000 to help them set up a foodbank, provide a medication collection service, assist with grocery shopping and establish a helpline and website. 

Working as Denham Community Support (DCS), the volunteers used social media and targeted leaflets to reach out to local residents in need of assistance. With over 5,000 leaflets delivered directly to homes across Denham in just one weekend, to highlight their newly launched telephone helpline and website, it wasn’t long before DCS was receiving calls for help from their community. 

Sharon Williams from Denham Parish Council explains more about the group’s role: “In the past six months, the volunteers making up Denham Community Support have worked tirelessly to support members of our local community with essential vital supplies, medication and a friendly chat.  In some cases, they have been the only point of contact and have provided valuable reassurance to families unable to see loved ones during lockdown. 

“To date we have received almost 800 calls for assistance to our telephone support line – 350 of those were made in the first month – and we were thrilled to receive the community grant from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks which has enabled us to directly support Denham residents.” 

Sharon added:  “We continue to assess the needs of our community and respond by thinking of new ways to help, like our recently established Denham Community Support Food Bank. We hope to be able to develop new ideas and ways to build a stronger community and already have some amazing ideas and plans for the future.” 

Danielle Royce, SSEN’s Head of Region, said: “Denham Parish Council has provided an outstanding service to its community, helping vulnerable residents during lockdown and looking ahead to develop ongoing support in the future. 

“By repurposing the Resilient Communities Fund, we have been able to support the communities we serve as they responded to and tackled the local issues they had identified as a result of the pandemic, and I’m delighted that SSEN was able to play a small part in Denham Parish Council’s 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.