Kent Community Energy

3 May 2020

Community investment group, 'Kent Community Energy' have committed to helping several local charities with funding specifically targetted at meeting the challenges of the lockdown during the Coronavirus crisis. We are extremely grateful for their support - please read on to find out how they are helping us, and other vital organisations, at this difficult time.

Kent Community Energy advances £46,000 to support local Covid-19 relief

Grants will support food bank, mental health & domestic abuse initiatives

Kent Community Energy is making available £46,000 from the Community Benefit Fund of Orchard 2 solar farm, near Sittingbourne, to support local initiatives to help tackle the coronavirus emergency.

Initially, four local charities will each benefit from grants of up to £5,000 to help them support local people facing problems exacerbated by the pandemic, ranging from getting food to mental health. They are all charities that Kent Community Energy has worked with before on energy-related issues; their aim is that this support will help build long-term resilience in the community.

  • The Canterbury Umbrella Centre, a community hub supporting people with mental health and physical illness, will receive £5000 to cover the costs of lost revenue from the forced closure of its well-being café and missed charitable and fundraising activities.
  • SATEDA, which supports victims of domestic abuse in the Swale area, will receive £5000 to create a fund to provide immediate help to those living under lockdown who need to flee a relationship.
  • Children and Families, which runs the Family Food Bank, will receive £5000 to allow them to create a delivery network to reach those in need across Swale, Maidstone, Thanet and Ashford.
  • Abbey Physic Community Garden in Faversham, which supports people with mental health difficulties and the socially isolated, will receive £3,199 to buy tablet computers to help staff and members with their roles while the garden is closed, and to provide seed growing kits for people to grow at home.

Penny Shepherd, Kent Community Energy, said:

“It has been fantastic to see our local communities coming together to help tackle the Covid-19 crisis and we are very pleased that Orchard 2 community solar farm can be part of this. These grants will help to alleviate the immediate need for help, but importantly they will also play a role in the long-term recovery of our communities, building a society that is resilient against both social problems and climate change.”

Ian Townsend-Blazier, Children and Families, said:

“We are grateful to Kent Community Energy for providing this funding which will make a real difference to the neediest families in the area. Our service will benefit those who fall between the gaps of government and local hub services that are finding these times extremely difficult. Providing a wraparound support service with professional partners helps us establish genuine need and provide any extra support required during these challenging times.”

Jacqueline Hunt, Abbey Physic Community Garden, said:

“Like so many, we are having to adapt quickly to the public health challenges of coronavirus and its impact on our members. Many of them rely on us to provide vital social care for maintaining their health and wellbeing, and some are naturally fearful that coronavirus could leave them more isolated and vulnerable. These funds will be vital in helping us to continue to support our members in these very challenging circumstances.”

The charities are due to receive the funds on April 30th. As efforts to overcome the impacts of the virus continue, Kent Community Energy will complete its distribution of funds to the remaining community groups that it has chosen for support. The agreement to release the community benefit funds early followed consultation between Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) which has invested in and supports the solar farm, its advisers, Environmental Finance, and Kent Community Energy.

CORE plans to transfer Orchard 2 into full community ownership in due course; through Kent Community Energy launching its first community investment offer for the solar farm later this year. This will allow local people to have a stake in their local green energy generating asset, resulting in substantial additional community benefit over the lifetime of the solar farm.