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SSEN supports Highlands and Islands communities respond to coronavirus with £50,000 funding

By John Davidson

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The community council on Barra is helping people isolated on the Hebridean island.
The community council on Barra is helping people isolated on the Hebridean island.

Communities across the Highlands and Islands are making good use of more than £50,000 in funding to help in their response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has awarded the money to communities across the region.

In March, the electricity provider repurposed its resilient communities fund to help communities cope with the impact of coronavirus.

A total of 36 communities across the Highlands and Islands are benefiting from £51,810 awarded to 27 individual projects aimed at helping those most vulnerable during the pandemic.

Successful applicants from community councils and nominated organisations have been awarded up to £3000 from the £150,000 available to provide food and materials to vulnerable community members, enable volunteers to support community coronavirus initiatives, provide PPE to vulnerable and frontline workers, run community befriending schemes and improve community communication.

Among those to benefit, Edderton Community Council received £1000 to provide a volunteer support service and food parcels to those most vulnerable.

Michael Brown, chair of Edderton Community Council, said: "On behalf of Edderton Community Council and the Edderton community, we'd like to thank SSEN for the generous resilience grant awarded to us. Our resilience support project has been a terrific success and has brought the community closer together. The grant will help us to continue to provide support during this very difficult time."

On the Isle of Barra, Castlebay Community Council is using SSEN funding to support various community organisations offering additional services during the coronavirus pandemic with a focus on rural isolation. Funds will support a home delivery service, food bank, telephone service for adults with additional support needs, free hand sanitiser for vulnerable people and key workers and virtual craft sessions.

Katie Denehy, of Castlebay Community Council, said: “Castlebay Community Council is delighted to receive SSEN funds which are going to various community groups who are helping to support the most vulnerable and isolated people in our rural community. This fund will help make a huge difference and is greatly appreciated and received.”

Nik Wheeler, head of SSEN’s Highlands and Islands region, added: “Our teams have always been part of the communities we serve, and over the past few months we’ve been working hard to keep the power flowing to the homes, businesses, care homes and hospitals across our region, as everyone knows how important electricity is in the nation’s fight against coronavirus.

“It’s been heart-warming to see how quickly communities have rallied together to look out for each other and support those most vulnerable, so I’m pleased our repurposed resilient communities fund will help in their ongoing response, reaching 36 different communities across the Highlands, the Western Isles and Orkney.”

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