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Somerset Sight offers vital services to vulnerable people in our communities with help from the Hinkley Point C Community Fund

November 4, 2021

The Hinkley Point C Community Fund has recently been supporting the more vulnerable members of our community. Accessing vital services can be difficult for some people at the best of times, but when many of these services were withdrawn during lockdown, the effect was devastating.

Somerset Sight was awarded a grant for £85,000 from the Hinkley Point C (HPC) Community Fund in August 2020 to both deliver and expand their befriending service in Sedgemoor, over a three-year period. The charity provides a unique and consistent point of support for many – especially during those difficult times at the height of the pandemic – supporting 2,500 people in Somerset and offering specialist information, advice, and practical and emotional support to anyone in the county experiencing sight loss. Last year, they were the only point of contact for many throughout the lockdowns, and provided a crucial frontline service. 80% of the people they help are over 75 years old and a third of them live alone, with an additional 500 new people seeking their help each year.

Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) manages the HPC Community Fund Open Grants programme, which awards large grants to community groups and organisations that work in places that are impacted by the Hinkley Point C development.

Jackie Sopwith, Chief Executive Officer at Somerset Sight, explains: “We used our grant to grow our Volunteer Visiting Befriending Service in the Sedgemoor district of the county. Each of our volunteers visits one or two service users who they befriend, going on walks or taking them on trips to local garden centres or cafés. They assist with correspondence, check the fridge for out-of-date items and generally offer bespoke support, helping in any way that’s needed. Each volunteer is an absolute lifeline and provides contact with the outside world. Reading and communication is so difficult for many of our service users – and quite a few of our more elderly service users also have hearing loss.”

Val Bishop, Programmes Director at SCF continues: “The HPC Community Fund grant has enabled Somerset Sight to increase its support of sight impaired vulnerable people living within the area, most crucially throughout the lockdowns. Voluntary work in vulnerable people’s houses was allowed within government guidelines at that time, and by ensuring these guidelines were observed, the Somerset Sight volunteers were able to continue delivering their support throughout the height of the pandemic.”

Andrew Cockcroft, Senior Community Relations Manager at EDF said: “It is fantastic to see our fund supporting some of the most vulnerable communities in our local area. The value is even greater given the context of the pandemic and I am really pleased to see it benefitting people at a time when they need it most.”

Jackie goes on to say: “One of our clients, Mrs Q, was referred to the Somerset Sight Volunteer Visiting Service in February of this year. The HPC Community Fund grant enabled our coordinator to provide her with a range of support to enable her to continue to live in her own home and yet still go out and about safely in Bridgwater. This lady is 85 years old with substantial sight and hearing loss, and she has no close family in Somerset. She was born and bred in Bridgwater, and worked at a factory in town for 40 years; needless to say she knows the town well.

“However, Mrs Q recently told our coordinator that, because of the increased volume of traffic in Bridgwater, she was becoming nervous about going out, due to her inability to see or hear traffic clearly. Within a month, our coordinator had placed a volunteer with Mrs Q, to take her to hospital appointments, help her mobilise safely around town and aid her with reading, correspondence, phone calls and bills.

“Our coordinator has also helped Mrs Q in many other aspects of her life, including accessing talking books, and safety around the house. They have applied for Blue Badge parking, a discount on her TV licence and referred her for extra mobility training to help her to walk around safely by herself.

“This was made possible thanks to the HPC Community Fund grant.”

Funding is now available from the Hinkley Point C Community Fund Open Grants Programme for projects, schemes or initiatives that will mitigate residual and intangible impacts of the Hinkley Point C development and associated projects, improve community quality of life and wellbeing in addition to maximising the potential benefits of the construction.

Applications will be considered for capital and/or revenue costs for projects of £5,000 and over. If you are unsure about whether your project fits the criteria, or have any other queries please feel free to contact Val Bishop, Programmes Director, via e-mail at val.bishop@somersetcf.org.uk or on 01749 344949.

Information on how to apply to the next round of HPC Open Grants can be made by visiting: www.hpcfunds.co.uk and the deadline to apply is Monday 10 January, 2022.

The HPC Community Fund is part of a wider £20 million commitment of funding, provided by EDF 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 run a local community project in Somerset and would like to find out more about grant funding from the HPC Community Fund please email Somerset Community Foundation at: info@somersetcf.org.uk, call: 01749 344949 or visit: www.hpcfunds.co.uk

Somerset Community Foundation (SCF) is a charity that helps passionate people in Somerset change the world on their doorstep by funding local charities and inspiring local giving and philanthropy. They aim to build stronger communities in Somerset where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. They provide rewarding and impactful ways for donors to give through them, to the causes and places they care about most. Together, they fund amazing organisations and the passionate people that change lives every day.

Since SCF were founded in 2002 they’ve awarded more than £16 million in funding, changing thousands of lives across Somerset.


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