GRANTS of up to £4,000 are available to voluntary groups and charities working to improve the lives of people living in their communities thanks to the continuing partnership between Dorset Community Foundation and Wessex Water.
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 from September 25 until midday on October 23, is designed to fund work supporting people most in need to build stronger, more resilient communities. This could include support for people in financial difficulty or who lack access to services, and work taking place in areas of multiple deprivation or rural isolation.
It can also fund projects helping people manage or avoid debt and provide education in money management and household budgeting skills. This could include raising awareness and take up of utility affordability support, such as the Wessex Water schemes, among those who need it most.
Last year the fund awarded more than £38,000 to 15 groups across Dorset. Among the recipients were two branches of Home-Start in Dorset. The Blackmore Vale branch, formerly known as North Dorset, received £2,400 to fund support for more than 70 families with children under five.
Like its counterpart in Wessex, formerly known as Home-Start South East Dorset, which received £2,899, its highly trained volunteers are assigned to a family to provide support and the benefit of their own experience bringing up children. The Wessex branch used its grant to provide an outdoor community weekly drop-in session in Boscombe for isolated parents.
Office manager Lesley Owen said: “We hope to run our new group to give children the best possible start in life, by supporting parents so they grow in confidence, strengthening and enjoying their relationships with their children and widening their connection with the local community.”
The Townsend Youth Partnership in Bournemouth received £3,000 towards the running costs of its youth club, which provides activities for disadvantaged young people aged 5 to 25. Staff member Val Thomas said: “We aim to tackle poverty and inequality by building skills, capacity and resilience. Activities including sport, outdoor adventure, cooking and budgeting will empower young people to become involved in social, economic and cultural life. We’re keen to raise aspirations and help young people to realise their full potential.”
ASCape in Bridport, which supports young people with autism and their families, used a £2,952 grant towards the running costs of its monthly youth club for teenagers, where they enjoy arts and crafts, drama, board-games and music production in the music studio.
It also helped fund the drop-in support group for parents and carers which runs alongside the you club. Volunteer Clare Cameron said: “It’s a space for them to gain peer support and restore their wellbeing, this can include mindfulness sessions and art and craft activities.”
This fund will enable us to continue investing in strengthening communities and supporting people who need it most.
Wessex Water head of community engagement Kirsty Scarlett said: “This 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 chief executive Grant Robson 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 for a fourth year,” he said. “We know there is some amazing work going on in our communities and we are so pleased this fund is there to support it.”
Details about eligibility and how to apply from September 25 here.