Partnership with Wessex Water helps deliver support to grassroots projects

Wessex Water is joining forces again with Wiltshire Community Foundation to give grants of up to £3,000 to groups who want to improve the lives of people living in their communities.

The Wessex Water Foundation Community Fund is part of the water and sewage company’s mission to fund projects which bring people together to build stronger communities. Since 2020 it has provided grants of at least £500,000 a year to projects across the Wessex Water region.

The community fund, which is open for applications until October 24, is designed to fund work that supports people in financial difficulty or who lack access to services, takes place in areas of multiple deprivation or rural isolation and helps build stronger, more resilient communities.

It will also fund projects helping people manage or avoid debt and provide education in money management and household budgeting skills.

Last year the fund awarded more than £38,000 to 17 groups across Wiltshire.

Among the recipients was Wiltshire and Swindon Credit Union, which is based in Swindon but has collection points all over the county. It received £2,430 to run money advice courses for its members. The group has 3,000 members who save regularly and are able to take out loans to cope with unexpected costs, such as replacing fridges or washing machines or repairing cars needed to get to work.

Chairman of trustees Nick Gallop said the service aims to keep people away from expensive payday loans. “Our collection point volunteers will talk to members about the money course, which is important because it teaches better budgeting.”

Home-Start South Wiltshire received £3,000 to help towards costs of volunteers supporting young or single families with children under five. “The grant enabled us to continue to deliver a weekly home visiting service to vulnerable families in South Wiltshire. The funding is much needed for our ongoing work,” said staff member Jacqui Scott.

“This funding helped us to recruit and train volunteers and meet the increased demand in referrals. It costs an average of £1,700 to support a family until they are ready to move on from our support.”

Carer Support Wiltshire has been able to run Carer Cafes in isolated areas all over the county thanks to the help of a £2,000 grant. Fundraising officer Rachel Demery said the cafes provide a vital lifeline to carers who are often unable to work.

“Carers are under immense pressure to cope with the physical and mental health needs of the person they care for, and often this impacts their ability to work and earn enough to support themselves,” she said. “In light of this, and from what we’ve seen on a more local scale, Carer Cafes funded by this grant support people in financial difficulty or those who lack access to services.”

Safer and Supportive Salisbury used a £3,000 grant to run a Muslim women’s group in the city. Chair of trustees Anne Trevett said the group tackles isolation and helps members discuss issues with language, education and access to services, as well as identifying training and support.

“Initially we were not confident that the women would come forward,” she said. “Attendance at the first meeting of the group face to face since the pandemic of 25 women, with representation across the generations and from multiple ethnicities/countries of origin is clear evidence of need that is being met.”

Wessex Water head of community engagement Kirsty Scarlett said: “The fund will enable us to continue investing in strengthening communities and supporting people who need it most.

“Part of this will involve continued funding for local groups, supporting debt advice organisations and charities dealing with those affected by low income, mental and physical health issues, hunger, housing problems and unemployment.

“We hope to support a wide range of groups who make a real difference for people in their local area.”

Wiltshire Community Foundation joint chief executive Fiona Oliver thanked Wessex Water for its continuing support. “Thanks to Wessex Water’s generous support we have been able to help grass roots groups across the county deliver vital support to their communities. We are looking forward to seeing more come forward with more ideas of how this partnership can make a difference to people.”

More information on how to apply is available here

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