Although the country is no longer in full lockdown, community groups continue to support those most in need. In 2018, Westfield United Reformed Church (URC) in Bridgwater was awarded a three-year grant for £226,400 from the Hinkley Point C (HPC) Community Fund, administered by Somerset Community Foundation (SCF).
The successful bid for funding supported their work in the community, including extensive renovation of their facilities to provide a refurbished hall and counselling rooms for their service users, works for which commenced in the autumn of 2019. Unfortunately, this was completed while the country was in complete lockdown, meaning they were initially unable to welcome back the 80 groups and countless members of the community that had used their facilities prior to the pandemic.
However, the church did not allow this small set back to prevent them from continuing to be active in the community, and they adapted their support accordingly.
Jacky Bartholomew, Treasurer at Westfield URC, said: “Since lockdown in March, we’ve been able to carry out over 3,500 ‘acts of kindness’, such as ‘phone and IT contact, running errands, and other vital support for the elderly and those people unable to leave the house due to self-isolation or shielding, such as picking up shopping or prescriptions.
“We also provided Bank Holiday takeaway cream tea boxes from the hatch in our Street Cafe, one for VE Day, and one just to say, ‘Thinking of you,’ to over 180 people.”
Westfield has also been able to support children and young people in the area through its nature explorers’ programme: “We managed to send out packs of different activities each week over a period of seven weeks, and we’ve put on online choir singalongs, picnics and even an online Olympics to help keep them amused and entertained,” Jacky said.
Between the end of March to mid-August, Westfield URC provided:
- 1,148 meals to rough sleepers
- 65 sets of clothes & toiletries to those in need
- 41 emergency accommodation referrals to Sedgemoor District Council
- 801 meals to the elderly and isolated
- 70 food bank vouchers
While restrictions may have eased and the country is no longer in full lockdown, Westfield URC is predicting that the needs in the community will increase over the coming weeks and months as furlough comes to an end and people in the community begin to feel the impact of job losses, evictions and recession.
Jacky added: “The third year of funding from the HPC Community Fund grant will be used to support recruitment and ongoing costs for a Church Related Community Worker for the first year of their employment, to manage and support increased needs in our local community.
“Our continued work in the community during the current crisis has been described as being a lifeline for the homeless and those at risk of homelessness. We hope that our work with local supermarkets to provide free food will be just one way we can continue to help people when they need it most.”
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.
More information about grant funding from the HPC Community Fund is available from Somerset Community Foundation on 01749 344949 or by visiting www.hpcfunds.co.uk.