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Supporting our communities

We’re doing everything we can to support our communities and vulnerable customers during the pandemic. This includes our ‘In This Together- Community Matters’ fund to support the delivery of services to the most vulnerable in our communities during this difficult time, ranging from vital home delivery supplies to child education initiatives to befriending services. Our priority services are also imperative at this time.

Adapting our usual support

During normal operating conditions, we work with a wide network of community-based agencies to support those struggling to afford their energy bills.

In the last 12 months, we’ve helped more than 18,000 customers directly save a total of over £10.5 million.

In light of coronavirus, we have scaled up our existing customer support schemes. This has meant that over 50 organisations WPD typically works with to offer energy saving and tariff switching advice widened their support to include befriending services and actions such as delivering shopping and prescriptions to isolated and vulnerable people.

Alongside our community partners, we’re helping those who have been most affected by the crisis to access support and advice, including help with online shopping slots, food bank referrals and advice on energy payment schemes.

In This Together - Community Matters fund

We are continuing to step up to support communities affected by coronavirus.

Our ‘In This Together – Community Matters Fund’ was first established in April 2020, just two weeks into the first national lockdown. This latest round of additional support means the funding for local communities surpasses £1million, delivering much needed help to over half-a-million vulnerable people impacted by the pandemic.

The fund was launched to support community groups and organisations delivering urgent care and support to thousands of families across the region during these challenging times. The fund has thus far comprised of 3 phases. The first round invited applications from charities, local hospitals, community groups, parish councils and local authorities for grants of up to £10,000 to help those directly affected by the pandemic. The second appealed to MP’s to nominate local groups which they felt would benefit most from the funding. The most recent, phase 3, was intended for festive causes to bring joy at this time- such as food, shelter and gifts for children, the elderly and others most vulnerable.

During a festive season like no other, we are delighted to share news of successfully allocating a further £250,000 Christmas extension to the ‘In This Together – Community Matters Fund’. This funding has supported a further 408 charities reach an estimated 62,750 people across the breadth of WPD’s power distribution region.

Having received an overwhelming response to this latest fund extension – with over 1,000 applications in just two weeks – we prioritised donations to schemes that helped to provide warm meals and gifts for children, the elderly and vulnerable people over the festive period.

Phil Swift, CEO, said: “I’m incredibly proud that our quick response initiative to help those most affected by the effects of the pandemic has grown to become a £1 million donation, helping hundreds of charities in their work supporting communities and people living in vulnerable situations. Rather than write a one-off cheque, we wanted to take a different approach – one that mirrors our company’s community-first ethos and enables a much wider array of charity initiatives to do more at a time when it is most needed.”

From the outset of the coronavirus pandemic, our staff have continued to work around the clock to keep the power flowing for its eight million customers across the Midlands, South West and Wales region. As well as delivering to essential sites including hospitals, factories and supermarkets, we know that reliable power to the domestic network has become incredibly important for those working, schooling, isolating and shielding in their homes.

Phil continued: “While life may be a little different at the moment, our aim remains the same – to deliver energy and support the millions of people living in the communities we serve, in particular people living in vulnerable situations. We’re all in this together – and I’m grateful that we have been able to reach so many charities, and the individuals they support, with much-needed funding this winter.”

A diverse range of good causes have benefited from the funding, including foodbanks and community centres, alongside established charities such as Age UK and the Salvation Army.

We would like to thank everyone who took the time to apply and gave details of their planned projects within local communities. Every application was carefully reviewed by our panel who tried to assist as many charities and community groups as possible across our operating area. We are in awe of all the good work that groups are carrying out to help their communities during these unprecedented times. To keep up with the festive projects we’ve supported, keep an eye on our social media and web pages.

For more information from phases 1 and 2, click here

  

Support across our regions - case studies

  • A Bedworth community initiative has received £750 to support its charity drive to deliver Christmas food hampers and a Christmas meal to households affected by the impact of the pandemic. Bedworth has a population of 32,000 and includes areas of significant deprivation. The foodbank is a vital resource in the town, made all the more essential, given the pandemic’s particular impact on vulnerable members of their community. During the first four months of the coronavirus epidemic they provided over 4,000 food parcels, compared to 1,285 over the whole of 2019.

    Bedworth Foodbank Manager Gill Hancock said: “The funding we have received is helping us hugely with our 12 Days of Christmas project whereby we are giving Christmas food hampers to many of the organisations in the community; for instance a local care home, a local school, and a number of homeless organisations. We are also providing Christmas hampers to many vulnerable families and individuals who are struggling financially. We will be delivering Christmas Eve Sacks to vulnerable children and some Christmas Day meals to a number of families and individuals.”

  • A Gloucestershire-based community initiative has received £750 to support its charity drive to fund counselling for child victims of abuse. Gloucestershire Counselling Service is a well-established charitable organisation providing a range of counselling and training services in Gloucestershire and the surrounding area. It is now recognised that the Covid-19 outbreak is likely to have an impact on population mental health and emotional wellbeing in the short and long term with social distancing and self-isolation, periods of uncertainty, and the wider socio-economic impacts of the disease all expected to be contributory factors. It is important to ensure that the right services are in place in the county to alleviate mental ill-health and support emotional wellbeing during both the outbreak and recovery phase.

    Emma Griffiths, from Gloucestershire Counselling Service, said: “Funding from the Western Power Distribution's Community Fund will enable us to provide heavily subsidised, ongoing counselling to those in severe financial hardship. As a direct result of Covid-19, we are experiencing unprecedented demand for our services and particularly from those on a low income, unable to access statutory support.”
     

  • A Devon community initiative has received £500 to fund further December chill sessions. Chill Therapy CIC is working with Portsmouth University on a national clinical trial to prove how effective cold water treatment is in the fight against anxiety and depression. From one trial course in July 2020 they held five active courses into December with a total of 65 participants. All courses are part of a clinical trial, and the preliminary results have been amazing with participants showing improvements in depression, anxiety and functionality.

    Mike Morris, from Chill Therapy CIC, said: “Thank you to WPD for giving us the power to deliver another valuable swimming course for local people suffering with anxiety and depression. In these difficult times we are seeing an increased interest in our courses as the number of people suffering with mental health conditions rises. With the extra funds, we are now able to run another course this year and make a difference to many local lives in the run-up to Christmas.”

  • A Cardiff community initiative, The Mentor Ring, has received £600 to support its mission to provide mentoring support and guidance to people of all ages and backgrounds. The donation will help identify families that need food and clothes and also provide gifts to children during the festive period.

    Sujatha Thaladi, The Mentor Ring CEO, said: “Thank you Western Power Distribution for the donation. The funds will allow us to offer more mentoring to more people throughout Wales, through this difficult time. To help people not feel isolated during this festival season, the donation will also allow us to offer those in vulnerable circumstances a small gift, bringing a little joy.”

     

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