A helping hand: Communities supporting each other through crisis

6 July 2020

In March as the Covid-19 pandemic began to hit the UK, one of our clients, Thrive Renewables, allocated £21,000 to a new pot from which to donate to local groups coming together to respond to the crisis.

The money came from the Community Benefit Programme plus savings Thrive made on business travel as the country went into lockdown. The groups to be funded came from the many communities that live close to Thrive's renewable energy projects - mainly wind farms.

CSE was engaged to administer the funds quickly and to consult with local communities on where the support would have the most impact.

Thrive's Louise Daniels said "We own and operate multiple renewable energy projects across the country and the communities who host our projects are vitally important to us. As a responsible business, we wanted to help them during the crisis".

CSE's Rachel Haycock managed the administration of the fund. "When the UK went into lockdown, most people’s lives changed overnight. Our aim with this fund was to provide a donation to the local organisations who were already responding to the needs of the communities close to each of the Thrive owned installations to help them increase their impact.

"We contacted local representatives for advice on which organisations could benefit most from the support and made donations to a variety of fantastic local causes such as foodbanks, baby banks, home learning initiatives and an activity association for a residential care home.”

Many of the donations were made to food banks. Run by dedicated staff and volunteers, food banks are often the last resort for many vulnerable people affected by the pandemic.

Aberdeenshire North Foodbank, located close to Thrive's Auchtygills and Clayfords wind farm, received a donation to help support their operations. Morecombe Bay Foodbank - near Caton Moor wind farm - has also been experiencing high demand, and spend their donation on electricity, rent and vehicle maintenance, something which has become even more vital as many self-isolating people have become reliant on food parcel deliveries.

A third recipient was Waverney Foodbank Eye close to Eye wind farm in Suffolk. Treasurer, Lee Fearns said "At the moment, with many of our volunteers over 70, we have been busy rationalising our service and recruiting younger replacements. Food donations have fallen considerably as many existing food donors are isolating and shoppers replenish their own stocks. As a result we are having to buy more of our food and also fund volunteers to make more home deliveries in their own cars. It's here that your donation is of such value to us.

As we all know, care home residents have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. Their increased vulnerability has led to many homes shutting their doors to visitors in order to protect residents, leading to feelings of isolation and loneliness. Technology can help alleviate these feeling by helping residents connect virtually with their loved ones no matter the distance.

Smiddybrae Activities Association works with Smiddybrae House, a residential care home near Thrive's Sigurd wind farm on Orkney. They provide activities and trips for the residents and received a grant from Thrive for i-pads and WiFi equipment to allow more personal face-time with family members.

Home learning has been a huge change in many peoples lives since lockdown. Many parents have had to learn to juggle both working from home and becoming a teacher to their children - challenging for parents and children alike. The parents council of Blackridge Primary School near Drumduff wind farm in West Lothian received a joint donation from Thrive and Greenpower to create home activity packs for every child at the school, providing ready-made ideas for stretched parents and much need activities for bored kids. “We cannot thank you enough for this support," said Clare from the parents’ council "Our parents are so very grateful.”

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