MORE than £100,000 has been awarded to grass roots groups and charities who will be helping families stay warm and fed over winter, thanks to a partnership between Dorset Community Foundation and BCP Council.
The community foundation’s BCP Food and Energy Support Fund, using money allocated to the council from the government’s Household Support Fund, has supported 26 groups across the BCP area with £102,000 worth of grants.
Many of the grant recipients will open welcoming warm spaces with hot food and refreshments to help people stay out of the cold and save on heating bills at home. Others will use the money for community food projects including meals, vouchers and food parcels.
Among the recipients is Christchurch Community Partnership, which will be using a £7,500 grant to run a monthly roast dinner and a weekly lunch club in the town centre for older people, many of whom are at risk of becoming isolated in winter months.
Chief executive Sandra Prudom said: “We have long been aware of the lack of any provision for many of our isolated residents, who don’t have family locally, or even at all. Our work during the Covid pandemic also made us aware of the issues around hidden hunger for many of them, as theirs is a generation not brought up to ask for help.”
Faithworks Wessex in Bournemouth was awarded a £7,500 grant on behalf of BCP’s Access to Food Partnership and, together with other groups in the partnership, is using it to help solve a problem plaguing many groups who distribute food across the area, particularly at Christmas. It is piloting a food storage space so that when groups receive unexpected donations of food they have somewhere to store it temporarily before sharing it when it is needed.
Chief executive Alistair Doxat-Purser, who is also chair of the Access to Food Partnership, said: “Staff from Feed Our Community, with many others from other projects, were up until 3am on Christmas Eve last year trying to distribute frozen turkeys donated by supermarkets at closing time. This happens at predictable times like harvest season and unpredictable times, when catering freezers break down.
“The One Stop Glut Hut will enable smaller community food projects make the most of donations, enabling them to support BCP households with good quality food.”
Bournemouth Foodbank is using a £1,000 grant to run cooking on a budget classes for households on low incomes while Hope Housing, Training and Support in Bournemouth, which received a £2,500 grant, is running classes for vulnerable former homeless people it houses to learn about saving on energy costs before sharing a hot meal together.
The choice between heating and eating, and the need to go without in order to feed one’s children are very real and very evident in our community
Poole Methodist Church received £7,500 to provide free hot meals for children from low income families and rough sleepers at its Wesley’s Community Café in The Spire. Trustee Eifron Hopper said: “Our experience of delivering these services last winter showed that it made a huge difference to the lives of people in our community. We have many stories to support this, such as being able to offer an adult meal to the mother who brought her daughter in for a meal and had not, herself, eaten since the previous day.
“The choice between heating and eating, and the need to go without in order to feed one’s children are very real and very evident in our community.”
Cllr Millie Earl, Deputy Leader of the Council and the Portfolio Holder for Connected Communities said: “The impact of the cost-of-living crisis is affecting so many of our residents. The pressures are particularly significant during the winter months, with those already struggling financially being most affected.
“These valuable and much-needed community schemes will offer help to our residents – whether they want to keep warm, save on heating costs or need access to food. I look forward to seeing the positive difference these projects will make in our local communities.”
Dorset Community Foundation Chief Executive Grant Robson said: “We are very pleased to be working with BCP Council on this fund once again. We are working closely with the council and tailoring our funding programme so that it fulfils the council’s objectives, which means 26 fantastic projects will get the funding they so desperately need to meet the ever increasing need in their communities.
“All of these projects are making a massive difference and thanks to this funding a lot of families and individuals will be better fed, better cared for and made to feel a part of their community.”