Three Wiltshire-based organisations are set to kick off new schemes thanks to funding from Wiltshire Wildlife Community Energy (WWCE). Grants totalling around £10,000 have been awarded by the Community Fund to Action for the River Kennet (ARK), 1st Hilperton Equinox Explorer Scouts and Meadowbrook Community Interest Company (CIC).
Applications from the bodies were earmarked for financial support at a recent meeting of the WWCE Community Fund panel and payments have now been received, enabling them to deliver a range of wildlife and climate positive projects across Wiltshire.
Located on a two-and-a-half-acre plot just outside of Melksham, Meadowbrook CIC will use its £3800 grant to create a diverse, pollinator-friendly sensory garden and inspiring wildlife habitat. The nurturing outdoor setting encourages local people experiencing physical or mental health challenges to come along and connect with others, immerse themselves in nature and take part in a range of therapeutic activities.
Meanwhile, healthy river advocacy group ARK was awarded a grant of nearly four and a half thousand pounds to create a new rain garden and provide other sustainable drainage solutions at Great Bedwyn village hall in the east of the county. This is the group’s sixth rain garden scheme, which involves the creation of attractive green spaces that are wildlife friendly and allow rainwater to slowly filter into the ground, rather than having pollutants run directly into our rivers.
ARK director, Charlotte Hitchmough said, "The flooding in Bedwyn in the Autumn was a reminder that as a society we need to be better at managing water, to reduce pollution into our precious rivers and avoid the misery of property flooding, as well as conserving water during dry spells. We are delighted to receive this valuable support from WWCE, which will help us continue to work with Great Green Bedwyn to create a village full of beautiful sustainable rain gardens."
Elsewhere near Trowbridge, the 1st Hilperton Equinox Explorer Scouts are developing a programme which will see 13- to 18-year-olds given the opportunity to experience paddle sports on the River Avon. To support the project, the group was awarded a grant of nearly £2,000 to pay for the installation of solar panels, battery storage and associated kit on a specially adapted container. The unit will use the resulting renewable energy for lighting and air circulation in the space, which will house accessible changing facilities for the young people.
Jon Bateman, chair of WWCE’s Community Fund said, “this is an incredibly challenging time for those in third sector organisations and small community-benefit companies who rely on donations and public support to deliver their services. It is therefore fulfilling to know that WWCE is in a position to be able to provide vital funding which will ensure they can pursue climate and wildlife-friendly schemes like these, that will benefit both people and planet in the long-term.”
Julian Barlow, chair of WWCE and trustee of the Wiltshire Wildlife Trust went on to say, “Hearing about the distribution of grants is one of the most rewarding parts of my role as chair of WWCE. It is the manifestation of our commitment to delivering far-reaching benefits to the local community and, to date, we’ve allocated a significant £130,000 to good causes which align with our ethos of reducing carbon and protecting wildlife throughout the county.”
The WWCE Community Fund is managed by a panel which meets three times a year to review applications and allocate grants. To find out more, or to apply visit www.wwce.org.
Image: A planter at Great Bedwyn Village Hall, part of the wider rainscape