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SSEN Funding Community Support During Pandemic

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Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has awarded more than £360,000 to community groups to support their efforts to look after one another during the coronavirus pandemic.

Now SSEN has published a report, detailing how SSEN's grants have helped 178 emergency projects across northern Scotland and central southern England during the pandemic, providing funding to support a wide range of locally-based projects and initiatives, including:

• 91 projects providing food for those most vulnerable across local communities

• 30 projects providing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to keep people safe  

• 10 befriending services to support those in isolation

When the national lockdown was announced on 23 March, SSEN consulted stakeholders including the Scottish Government and British Red Cross, keen to establish how best its Resilient Communities Fund could add value to government and philanthropic responses to the coronavirus pandemic. SSEN's experience and relationships with locally-elected bodies, including community and parish councils, were recognised as giving the network operator a strong position to support grassroot community responses.

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SSEN opened an emergency Resilient Communities Fund on 31 March to provide grants of up to £3,000 to Community, Town, Parish and Borough Councils, and within seven weeks of the lockdown starting, SSEN made awards of £363,848 to 178 communities.

Lyndsey Stainton, Head of Stakeholder Engagement at SSEN Distribution, said: "Reading through this year's Resilient Communities Fund Annual Report, the number one thing that stood out is how local community groups have shown a real determination to look out for those who need extra help.

"From Orkney to the Isle of Wight, communities have rallied round and put their heads and hearts together to support those most vulnerable, so I'm pleased our repurposed Resilient Communities Fund has been able to deliver a quick and timely helping hand."

With residents in Ross-shire needing to make a round-trip of up to 15 miles to access services that were still open during lockdown, three local community councils worked together to ensure that vulnerable residents and those who were shielding safely received hand-deliveries of food to their door.

Maureen Ross from the Seaboard Centre in Balintore, which was the base for this initiative, said that the combined total of £4,650 in funding ensured that the groups could help those who needed it most: "The Seaboard Centre being a Community Action Hub brought the community councils together as a collective which benefitted those in need in our communities. We found that pulling together in this way forged a strong relationship and one we hope to continue building on."

Tisbury Parish Council in Wiltshire reacted quickly to the pandemic and utilised their resilience plans to coordinate a Tisbury Neighbourhood Response. The work of the response team ensured the most vulnerable in the community were identified and supported throughout the lockdown.

The funding from SSEN enabled 300 local volunteers to receive the personal protective equipment they required to deliver support safely. This included delivery of prescriptions, shopping orders, and carrying out emergency odd jobs for self-isolating residents.

Elizabeth Coyle-Camp, Tisbury Parish Councillor, said: "Many shielding elderly residents told us that without our volunteer group they would not have been able to cope during lockdown. Enormous thanks go to SSEN for funding vital help."

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