GRANTS of up to £3,000 are available for grass roots groups working to build better communities thanks to a partnership between Wessex Water and Dorset Community Foundation.
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 22, 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 provides education in money management and household budgeting skills.
Last year the fund awarded more than £18,000 to 11 groups in Dorset. Among the recipients was Weymouth Skatepark Association, which used a £1,500 grant to install a water refill machine at the park, which attracts up to 100 riders and skaters in holidays and at weekends.
Lisa Kille, a member of staff at the Preston Beach Road park, said: “The water refill station is really popular and we’ve got one that measures how many bottles we fill so we can see how much plastic we’ve saved. We’re really grateful for the grant.
“It’s been a great asset to us in helping reduce plastic waste and also encouraging young people and adults to drink more tap water, we have saved more than 5,000 throwaway plastic bottles – and that’s during a pandemic when we found ourselves closed for many months. We know we can save a lot more.”
The £1,500 the Bus Stop Club in Ferndown received £1,500 was originally for its weekly community café but after it was closed because of Covid the group used the money towards providing hot meals for vulnerable families three nights a week.
Project manager Susan Sutherland said: “We were very pleased to be allowed to use thew money in this way because the meals were urgently needed. We sent out 890 meals over six months and not only were they really important for the families who received them, it gave our staff the chance to check in on the families to see how they were doing.”
Bridport Community Shed used a £1,500 grant to create a quiet space at its base in a former gardener’s yard leased from the town council. Trustee Richard Toft said: “We have christened the space the Repair Café and we will use the funding to create the Repair Cafe, spending it on materials for the conversion of the existing structures, with all labour being donated by volunteers.”
The fund will enable us to continue investing in strengthening communities and supporting people who need it most
Dorset Mind was awarded £1,500 towards the costs of an eco-therapy project in association with Meyers estate agents in the town. It will make three allotments available for people with mental health issues. Staff member Marie Glen said: “The project will be open to any residents of Dorchester who have mild to moderate mental health challenges. It is an inclusive project that aims to help approximately 40 people per year, over the age of 16 most of them whom will have experienced loneliness and isolation and may well be disengaged from the community.
“We are also intending long-term to engage young people with mental health conditions as part of the project, educating them about the wellbeing benefits of gardening, being outside, working as part of a community and developing social skills.”
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.”
Dorset Community Foundation director Grant Robson said: “We are delighted to be working with Wessex Water again and its support will help grass roots groups to help their communities build back after a tough 18 months.”
Find out more about eligibility and how to apply here.