SSEN funding helps Oxfordshire charities to support their community through pandemic

Funding from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has enabled two local charities to join forces and support the vulnerable residents of an Oxfordshire market town during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Working with Wantage Town Council, the Ray Collins Trust and the Wantage and Surrounding Area Support Group applied to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund and received an award of £3,000 to help them set up a medication collection service, assist with grocery shopping and delivery, and establish a support group for those shielding and isolating in their local community. 

By joining forces, the two charities have been able to help Wantage’s vulnerable families and individuals throughout the pandemic, and continue to work with 36 local families in need of additional assistance. As the needs of the community has changed, the group has adapted the help it offers and is now also providing computer equipment for children in need of extra technology as they return to the classroom. 

Jim Mitchell, Fundraising Secretary for the Ray Collins Trust said: 

“The funding we have received from SSEN, along with the support from Wantage Town Council, has enabled us to identify members of our community who continue to need assistance as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. 

“This support has taken many forms, including collecting groceries and medication, distributing food provisions and supplying computer equipment. As the pandemic has continued, we have looked at other areas where we could help and are now also acting as stewards in our local vaccination centres. 

“The pandemic has affected people in many different ways and through SSEN’s funding and our town council’s support, our volunteers have been able to adapt the offering to our community and its vulnerable residents, bringing them the right support at the right time.” 

Craig Rankin, SSEN’s Head of Region, said: 

“This is such an excellent example of how local communities have responded to the coronavirus pandemic and have worked together to provide an appropriate and considered support service to their communities. 

“The ongoing work of the Ray Collins Trust and Wantage and Surrounding Area Support Group shows that they have kept listening to their community and changed their support to suit those needs. I’m proud that, through SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund, we have been able to play a small part in helping them achieve this.”

SSEN repurposed its Resilient Communities Fund in 2020, making £320,000 available to support local efforts to help those most vulnerable during the first phase of the coronavirus pandemic. It has now launched its 2021 fund with £200,000 available for non-profit making organisations, community groups and charities working to protect and enhance the resilience of those most vulnerable in the distribution operator’s south patch. 

The 2021 fund, which opened on Tuesday 6 April, will support local projects that: 

  • Protect the welfare of vulnerable community members through enhancing their resilience and improving community participation and effectiveness.
  • Enhance community facilities, services and communication – particularly to support local response to a significant emergency event.

The 2021 fund is particularly focused on projects helping vulnerable or isolated people living in SSEN’s central southern England network area, with applications of up to £20,000 to be considered by an independent fund panel. The application deadline is Thursday 10 June and funding decisions will be communicated by September 2021. 

To find out more about the Resilient Communities Fund, read SSEN’s annual fund reports and apply to the 2021 fund, please visit: ssen.co.uk/resiliencefund

To check who your network operator is to see if you would be eligible for funding, please visit ssen.co.uk/whoismynetworkoperator.