Wessex Water grants flowing out to groups thanks to community foundation

VOLUNTARY groups and charities helping communities recover from Covid have been boosted with grants through a partnership between Wessex Water and Dorset Community Foundation.

Wessex Water grants flowing out to groups thanks to community foundation

The Wessex Water Recovery Fund is part of the Wessex Water Foundation, a multi-million pound initiative launched last June. Grants are targeted at people struggling with money, schemes to strengthen communities, green recovery initiatives and projects to enhance nature and wildlife.

Among the 22 recipients of the £43,750 awarded through Dorset Community Foundation is Home-Start South East Dorset, which received £2,400 to help it support families in the Bournemouth area. Fundraiser Sally Smith said: “Our project will support disadvantaged families with young children adversely affected by Covid-19 who are struggling to cope with financial hardship, mental health difficulties and isolation.”

Volunteers will offer parents weekly support for six months by phone, while Covid restrictions apply, to talk about the pressures they face, discuss coping strategies and signpost them to other help.

“Families can also join one of our weekly family groups on Zoom or one of the Wellness Walks and access to join WhatsApp group where parents can talk and we will share daily posts with activities, advice, music and meditation,” said Mrs Smith.

In Jolly Good Company received £720 to set up a new dementia friendly gardening group in Blandford, working with Dementia Friendly Blandford and the town council. The group works with older people with dementia and aims to tackle loneliness and isolation by arranging get-togethers, clubs and outings.

Staff member Sarah Rampton said the charity plans  to run two groups a month. “We have been asked by the town council if we can help to maintain and improve the sensory garden in the Woodhouse Gardens,” she said.

Dorset Polish Centre received £2,479 to help members of its community affected by the pandemic to rebuild their lives. Eva Zabarylo, chair of the group based in Bsocombe Road, Bournemouth, said the community has been disproportionately affected by Covid. “Many have lost their jobs as a result of the health crisis, and improved levels of English are vital to succeed in the jobs market,” she said.

The group plans to use the grant for English lessons and training in IT and business skills as well as support with Universal Credit applications from a bi-lingual accountant. “The English will not only help their employment prospects, but also help to reduce isolation and build a stronger sense of community between the local Polishand the local British community,” said Mrs Zabarylo.

The Dorchester Trust for Counselling and Psychotherapy was awarded £2,000 to fund sessions with key workers suffering from stress and anxiety brought about by the pandemic. The trust, in Colliton Street, said it has counselled 35 key workers since the start of of the crisis, with demand still rising.

“The people we have helped workin places such as GP surgeries, hospitals, schools and care homes; these will bestronger and able to care for those they look after if the staff are well and feeling able to cope,” said administrator Kate Hooper.

The Connie Rothman Learning Trust will use a £2,500 grant to provide workshops for young people from low income families to help them make up some of the learning they lost during the lockdowns.

The trust, based in Belle Vue Road, Bournemouth, is a not-for-profit tuition centre that works with disadvantaged families and young carers.  Community Outreach Co-ordinator Ben Jenkins said: “The workshops will also provide support in helping these vulnerable young people transition back into normal school life.

“For some of the groups, such as young carers, the lockdown period has been incredibly difficult. They have had to increase their responsibility as carers, and this has unfortunately been at a negative detriment to their education and own mental wellbeing.”

Dorset Community Foundation Director Grant Robson said: “We are so pleased that our relationship with Wessex Water means there will be this vital extra support for Dorset groups who have been unable to fundraise in order to maintain their services. Wessex Water chooses to work with us because we know where this money is needed the most.”

Kirsty Scarlett, Wessex Water’s head of community engagement, said: “The Wessex Water Foundation aims to help groups recovering from the impact of Covid-19 on local communities and to help local organisations and charities in building resilience for the future. I’m delighted to be able to share the news that our local community panels have now decided which organisations will receive funding.”

The community foundation’s Dorset Community Coronavirus Fund has distributed more than £1 million through 328 grants to groups across the county. Donate to the fund here.