Tuesday, 11 October 2016 00:07

Fund to keep rural communities warm

Written by  Ruralcity Media
Fund to keep rural communities warm

A £42,000 fund to help vulnerable people warm this winter has been approved in Hampshire.

Tackling winter fuel poverty will be among the areas to benefit from funding for rural communities, said Hampshire County Council.

Council leader Roy Perry approved the funding, which is among £88,000 earmarked from the council's Rural Delivery Strategy for five projects.

"This funding is of vital importance to ensure that residents who don't have central heating will have the opportunity to install it, particularly those living in rural areas," he said.

"The cold can kill, and being able to keep warm is vital for everyone, but particularly for older people, the very young and those with long term medical conditions.

    See also: Latest news on fuel poverty

Councillor Perry also approved funding for a schools project to tackle rural isolation, as well as a pilot for parish councils and volunteers to help look after their local paths.

Hampshire's rural affairs champion Edward Heron said: "Much of Hampshire is rural, and I'm proud to support vital projects such as these, that tackle winter fuel poverty and social isolation.

"We are also working with parish councils who are important partners, to help make the countryside as accessible as possible for residents and visitors."

The local authority's £42,000 Hitting the Cold Spots project provides assistance with heating bills, system repairs or replacements.

The project has been running for five years, with around 30% of people who have benefitted from the scheme, so far, living in rural areas.

The latest funding is in addition to £337,000 secured from the government to deliver first time central heating into the properties of vulnerable older people and families.

Meanwhile, £27,750 has been approved for extending Hampshire's rural schools intergenerational project to tackle rural social isolation.

Some £38,000 was awarded in 2015 for ten rural schools across Hampshire to be developed into health and wellbeing hubs to involve targeted members of the community.

The additional £27,750 will be used to include another six schools, as well as provide resource packs for other schools.

Hampshire has also approved £10,250 for a pilot project to work with Parish Councils and volunteer groups to support and manage rights of way and local access issues.

The funding will be used for six path warden training workshops, a stock of 30 volunteer warden toolkits and 30 ditch crossing renewal kits for parish councils.

A pilot project to encourage dementia friendly rural communities was awarded £3,000.

The project will involve working with three parishes, using the experiences learned to create a toolkit to support creating Dementia Friendly Villages across Hampshire.

Finally, a £4,550 grant was awarded for Action Hampshire to provide subsidised energy audits for six community buildings in rural Hampshire.

Lessons learned will then be shared through a workshop and resource pack to help other community buildings across Hampshire to save energy and reduce running costs.

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