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Fast funds for communities during coronavirus

Monday 20th April 2020 11:00

Eight utility networks have teamed up to give a £500,000 boost to local community foundations during the coronavirus pandemic.

Thames Water, UK Power Networks, SGN, Southern Water, Anglian Water, Affinity Water, SES Water and South East Water are collaborating on a regional initiative looking out for their local communities as part of their ongoing work to help people living in vulnerable circumstances.

The firms that keep the lights on, taps running and gas flowing, employ thousands of key workers to maintain reliable supplies, who are working hard to ensure the country keeps going during these unprecedented times.

Working together, they are supporting local community foundations to make sure funding quickly gets to the frontline, where it can make the most impact in boosting community resilience, including local foodbanks, volunteer centres, food delivery services and outreach programmes for those at risk of isolation.

The rapid funding will reach local charities supported by community foundations across Bedfordshire and Luton, Cambridgeshire, Surrey, Essex, Kent, Norfolk, Suffolk, Sussex, London, Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire, Hampshire and Isle of Wight, Berkshire, Wiltshire and Swindon, Dorset, Scotland, Northamptonshire, Lincolnshire and Milton Keynes. Last year community foundations supported over 16,600 community organisations and charities.

Kelly Macfarlane, Thames Water’s customer experience director, said: “We all need to work together during these challenging times, and even more so when it comes to helping our customers who need extra support. Our essential service means we have an important role to play in supporting our communities and I know this donation will make a big difference in taking care of individuals and families who need it most.”

Kerry Potter, consumer vulnerability manager, who chairs the Utility Networks Partnership, added: “In this difficult time for the communities we serve, this is one way we can provide practical help and support to make a real difference to the lives of the most vulnerable in our communities. We are proud to work with our regional partners in the industry to support the community foundations, through this fund we are ensuring individuals suffering hardship as a result of the coronavirus outbreak are helped.”

Rosemary Macdonald, interim CEO of UK Community Foundations, said: “This extraordinarily generous donation will enable community foundations to reach the people who most need assistance throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Each community foundation has an in-depth understanding of their local area, what the priority needs are and how best to address these issues, so they can ensure the funding goes where it is most needed and can make the most impact.”

People who may need free extra support in the rare event of an electricity, gas or water outage can join confidential Priority Service Registers. Pensioners, parents with children under five, disabled people, hearing and sight-impaired residents, people with dementia, the chronically ill, those using medical equipment powered by electricity at home, can all benefit from free extra support by joining the registers. Find out more details on how to join by visiting:

Anyone facing difficulties with their utility costs at this time is urged to contact their energy and water companies, which can explain the financial vulnerability programmes they have in place to support their customers.

You can find your local community foundation through UK Community Foundations.