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Our work at Calor takes us in to the heart of rural communities and because of this we are familiar with many of the challenges they have to face; whether it is accessing vital infrastructure services such as public transport, the growing impact of rural youth migration or simply, finding adequate broadband provision!
Our Start from the Heart programme has already made some positive in-roads in this area, enabling our staff to donate their time to help a local project that matters to their community. But we also recognise that each community is different, with unique needs and challenges, and if we are to support the people that live and work in these areas we need to be able to adapt to their circumstances.
That’s why this year, we decided to launch the Calor Rural Community Fund on a national scale.
Following the successful pilot of the campaign in 2017, we rolled out the fund across the whole of England, Scotland and Wales, providing £50,000 worth of grant funding to support local projects in off-grid locations.
With 21 individual prize pots ranging from £1,000 up to £5,000 up for grabs, the 2018 Calor Rural Community Fund scheme resulted in a number of worthy submissions. These included funding for community centres, village halls and sporting venues, as well as initiatives to support local schoolchildren and the elderly.
This year’s voting criteria covered a number of factors, which included the impact of the project and its sustainability. These looked at areas such as the project’s reach, its appeal to a wide cross-section of society, and importantly, that it would stand the test of time beyond the initial funding.
To help ensure we remained objective, we worked with an independent judging panel consisting of supporters from Rural England, Business in the Community and the mental health charity, Mind.
Moreover, the scheme was also built around the applicants; encouraging them to enter their project on line and most importantly, using their collective, community ‘power’ to get local people behind voting for their project. This resulted in over 216 projects being submitted and more than 182,604 votes being cast – a real testament to the effect of local, community engagement.
This year’s winning projects included the restoration of a war memorial, a number of community and school garden revamps, plus new equipment for a junior sailing club, an elderly social group and a rural Scout Centre.
Paul Blacklock, Calor’s Corporate Affairs Manager added: “As a rural energy provider, we understand that country living can be challenging and access to community facilities can be especially difficult.
“We set up the Calor Rural Community Fund to be able to provide some much needed support to rural communities, and this year we were inundated by a number of deserving applications. We’re delighted to have awarded 21 different projects with funding ranging from £1,000 up to £5,000 to help make a difference to each of their communities.”
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