Hinkley Point C Community Fund tackles loneliness in Somerset

January 27, 2020

Since its launch in November 2017 the HPC Community Fund has been supporting community projects and initiatives that help mitigate the impacts and increase the opportunities arising from the construction of the new power station. Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge Men’s Shed (BOSHed) was one of the first community groups to receive a grant from the Hinkley Point C (HPC) Community Fund’s Small Grants programme, administered by Somerset Community Foundation (SCF), two years ago [January 2018].

The number of over-50s experiencing loneliness is set to reach two million by 2025/6, compared to around 1.4 million in 2016/7 – a 49% increase in 10 years [source: Age UK 2018, All The Lonely People]. Loneliness can have a profound effect on the health and well-being of older people in the UK, and Somerset is no exception. Retirement can often bring about a lack of purpose, with the loss of routine and companionship leading to feelings of loneliness and isolation. Men’s Sheds provide community spaces for men – and women – to connect, converse and create, filling that void and re-establishing a sense of community that older or retired people can experience.

Tony Cradock from BOSHed said: “The funding from the HPC Community Fund was used to provide decking and a panel saw for our Men’s Shed. This meant that we were more accessible and able to develop what we do. In the last two years the Shed has gone from strength to strength, and together we find friendship, as well as having a good time!”

BOSHed has recently opened a new ‘wing’ – the Women’s SHEd – and the group meet at the premises every Monday. Sue Meads from the Burnham-on-Sea and Highbridge Women’s SHEd explains: “Our group started up gradually about 18 months ago, and we now have a regular number of women coming along to the SHEd, which is held every Monday. We have a woodworking group where we make everything from bird boxes to double beds, and a crafting group where the women enjoy a number of crafts, including patchwork, crochet and jewellery making.

“The SHEd helped me through a really tough period in my life. It’s a very supportive and welcoming environment – you can take part in the activities or simply sit and have a coffee and a chat. We’re always looking for new members, so please do come along and give it a try if you’re in the area.” 

Success after two years of the small grants programme

Over £12,000 of grant funding was awarded to five community groups in the latest two rounds of the Fund’s Small Grants programme (for grants of up to £5,000 for charities, voluntary groups and social enterprises that normally operate on less than £100,000 each year), including:

Bridgwater Talking News: Awarded £1,050 to support the needs of those in the community who are visually impaired by providing them with spoken versions of local news.

Chilton Trinity Village Hall: Awarded £3,861 to upgrade their equipment to better serve the expanding local community.

Magna Housing: Awarded £3,595 to paint and put together bird, bat and hedgehog boxes, made by Bridgwater Men’s Shed, with older residents of sheltered housing, to reduce isolation and bring the community closer together.

St Francis Social Club for Visually Impaired People: Awarded £1,500 to support their work in Sedgemoor providing a weekly social group and improving quality of life.

West Somerset Inter-Cultural Friendship Group: Awarded £2,000 for their work raising awareness of diversity and reducing isolation in pre-schools and care homes.

The Small Grants programme is ongoing with decisions made every 6-8 weeks. To be considered at the next award meeting your application must be submitted by Friday 28 February. The next deadline following this will be Friday 10 April. The next HPC Community Fund Open Grants programme deadline (for major grants) is Wednesday 1 April.

The Hinkley Point C Community Fund is part of a wider £20 million commitment of funding, provided by EDF Energy through Section 106 agreements, for communities that are affected by the development of the new nuclear power station, to promote their social, economic and environmental wellbeing and enhance their quality of life.

If you would like to find out more about grant funding from the HPC Community Fund, please call Somerset Community Foundation on: 01749 344949 or click here

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