Communities Living Sustainably initiative
£960K FOR DORSET COMMUNITIES FACING FOOD AND FUEL POVERTY
A Dorset project will be supporting isolated older people at risk of fuel poverty, helping vulnerable fishing and farming communities become more resilient to climate change, and building a sustainable local food supply with just over £960,000 in Lottery good cause funding.
Dorset Community Action is one of 12 projects across England each receiving up to £1 million from the Big Lottery Fund’s Communities Living Sustainably initiative, which is focused on inspiring people to reap financial, environmental and health gains by adapting the way they live and work and connect together.
Mark Cotton, Big Lottery Fund’s Head of Region for the South West, said: “I am delighted to see Dorset Community Action receive this funding. Their work will make a vital contribution to improving the lives and futures of vulnerable people and communities right across the county, and hopefully inspire other areas to follow suit.
“Adverse weather is impacting on crops globally – and this is causing an increase in food prices in UK supermarkets* and with fuel bills also predicted to rise this winter, this is being felt by people now. With this funding we are helping local communities to cope with these added pressures during the recession, taking small steps towards more sustainable living.”
Twelve projects have been chosen from earlier in the year, when 30 community groups received up to £10,000 to work in partnership with local people, councils, schools, businesses, and voluntary groups to draw up detailed plans for how their community can become greener. Now the 12 chosen projects will use their funding to deliver their ideas.
Dorset Community Action will lead a local partnership working in Bridport, Dorchester and the surrounding villages, facing a whole host of environmental challenges due to the mix of rural communities, high levels of farmland and coastal fisheries, a number of stone walled homes and some not connected to mains gas. One in four Dorset residents are over 65**, many of whom can become particularly isolated in such a rural area as well as being vulnerable to the effects of extreme weather and at risk of falling into food and fuel poverty.
Targeted activities will be run to address the needs of these different communities, and will include a ‘Draught Busters’ programme, where local volunteers will be trained to advise people on making their homes warmer and more energy efficient. An energy cooperative will also be established to develop enterprises, such as a wood fuel scheme using local woodland supplies. Meanwhile a local food partnership will be set up to link farmers and fisherman across the area and give more people the opportunity to grow their own food and to show them how to use solar power. Local schools will also be supported to increase their knowledge of sustainable living, and achieve ‘Eco-School’ status.
Georgina Morgan, CEO of Dorset Community Action, said: “We are thrilled to be given the chance to make a real and positive change for communities through a number of brilliant new sustainability projects. Now we will be able to help people make greener choices in their homes, businesses and schools, do more to support local food, farming and fishing and address climate change and extreme weather risks affecting communities; especially older people.
“While this is fantastic news for communities in and around Bridport and Dorchester, where most of the projects will be set up, we plan to ensure a future positive spin off for communities in Dorset as a whole.”
Supporting the groups each step of the way will be a partnership, led by Groundwork UK and including BRE, Federation of City Farms, Energy Savings Trust and nef. It will offer advice and guidance and also establish a learning support network to capture and share learning with other communities and inform the future development of investments of BIG’s Sustainable and Resilient Communities strategy. (www.communitieslivingsustainably.org.uk)
Communities Living Sustainably is part of the Big Lottery Fund’s £50m Sustainable and Resilient Communities strategy, which aims to encourage behaviour change among individuals and communities so they can cope better with the environmental, economic and social impacts of a changing climate. Vulnerable people, including those on low-incomes or older people, are less likely to cope with the negative effects of climate change such as floods, heat waves or severe cold weather.