The Riverside Gardens complex in Witney is home to 51 elderly residents, some of whom are vulnerable and for accessibility reasons require to live in ground floor accommodation. In Christmas 2020, the nearby River Windrush burst its banks, flooding the complex and cutting power and water supplies to some residents, with 13 of them having to be evacuated from their homes. In 2007 the river levels rose to such an extent that the entire complex was flooded and all residents were evacuated, with some having to wait at least six months before being able to return home.
Following discussions with agencies and local authorities, the residents found they weren’t eligible for assistance in setting up flood prevention systems and decided to volunteer as committee members of the Riverside Residents Association; enabling them to seek funding for equipment to help prevent the complex being overwhelmed by rising river levels during heavy rains.
Their successful application to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund in 2021, resulted in the group receiving an award of £19,902 to help them develop their flood prevention scheme and bring them greater resilience during adverse weather events.
Kay Jerred is the group’s Flood Prevention Representative. She said:
“We were absolutely thrilled to be successful in our request for nearly £20,000 to help the elderly, vulnerable residents here become more resilient in their protection against flooding.
“After the flooding on Christmas Eve 2020, my neighbour, Margaret King and I decided we couldn’t witness the scenes of distress, shock and trauma that we saw that night and set out to see what we could do to make the retirement complex more resilient against the flood water.
“Although some of the agencies we contacted were sympathetic, none were able to offer financial help or answers and we realised we had to do it ourselves through funding from organisations such as SSEN.”
“Through SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund and our own onsite fundraising, we have been able to purchase some passive flood doors which are ideal for the elderly, less mobile residents as no bending or lifting is involved. They also provide peace of mind as a ‘lock up and go’ solution.
“We have now fitted everything that the funding has allowed. The elderly and vulnerable residents, who have been helped, are thrilled to have the flood damage possibility mitigated.”
This year, SSEN has made £1 million available to non-profit making organisations, community groups and charities working to protect and enhance the resilience of those most vulnerable in central southern England. The deadline date for applications is Wednesday 1 June 2022 and the distribution operator is keen to make sure as many eligible groups as possible apply.
Applicants are asked to consider the criteria for funding, which seeks to support projects falling under these two categories:
- Resilience for Emergency Events - To enhance community facilities, services and communication specifically to support the local response in the event of a significant emergency such as extended power loss.
- Vulnerability - To protect the welfare of vulnerable community members particularly during significant emergency events such as extended power loss, through enhancing their resilience and improving community participation and effectiveness.
To find out more about the Resilient Communities Fund, read SSEN’s annual fund reports and apply for funding, please visit https://www.ssen.co.uk/RCF/.