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West Cumbria communities share £430,000 in water company’s legacy grants

Pipeline laying near A66

From money advice to trauma support and healthy exercise, community and environmental projects across Allerdale and Copeland are celebrating shares in a £1m fund.

So far 25 charity and community groups and 18 new woodland projects have been allocated cash from a west Cumbria legacy fund which was launched earlier this year by water company United Utilities.

United Utilities is investing its £1m in areas affected by building work on the company’s new West Cumbria Water Supply Scheme, which, when finished, will boost local water supplies while protecting the environment.

Around half the money is earmarked for community projects which enhance the lives of people living in the area, with the other half being set aside to support the planting of new woodland, which enhances the landscape, benefits wildlife and protects the environment.

After three rounds of applications the total amount paid or pledged so far totals more than £340,000 in legacy grants and almost £90,000 towards the planting of new trees, hedges or woodlands. The next round of grant applications will be considered in December.

Grants range from £1,000 up to £30,000 and have included:

  • £26,000 to help Citizens Advice Copeland deliver financial advice to vulnerable people
  • £30,000 towards a Workington base for domestic and sexual abuse charity Safety Net, and
  • £28,500 for a new free outdoor gym at Keswick’s Fitz Park.
John Hilton on the pipeline route

John Hilton, United Utilities West Cumbria Project Director said: “We’ve been blown away by the great work being delivered by unsung heroes all over west Cumbria and it’s an honour to be able to help. The idea behind the grants is to leave a long-term legacy which will keep improving the lives of west Cumbrians long after construction finishes. The quality of applications has been exceptional.”

Citizens Advice Copeland chief officer Shelley Hewitson said: “The roll out of Universal Credit has seen a demand for our advice service increase, this is likely to increase even more from December when Millom also becomes a full service area. This grant will help us fund a part-time Financial Skills Officer over three years who will help people in some of the UK’s most deprived areas improve their financial skills and wellbeing as well as their confidence and general peace of mind.”

Jo Birch, office manager for Safety Net (UK), said: “We support the recovery all those affected by rape, exploitation, sexual and domestic abuse in Cumbria but the space we rent in Workington is not big enough and public transport to our main office in Carlisle can be too costly and infrequent for the people who need us. This money will be a huge boost towards our aim of buying and refurbishing a building in the town and in the long term will save us money on rent and other costs.”

Fitz Park Charitable Trust trustee Paul Titley said:  “This grant is amazing. It means we can start planning work on the gym which will be built on some spare land next to the multiple use games area straight away. Although Fitz Park is prone to flooding, the outdoor gym will be weather proof and will include 9 stations including an air walker, sit up board and bike stepper.  It will be a great free and long lasting resource for social and serious athletes, irrespective of their financial means.”

Community applications to the Cumbria Legacy Fund are administered by Cumbria Community Foundation while woodlands projects are administered by Cumbria Woodlands, on United Utilities’ behalf.

Cumbria Community Foundation accepts applications from community groups which provide activities that benefit people or the environment in the Allerdale and Copeland areas. Successful applicants can win a community grant of up to £10,000 or a strategic grant of up to £30,000. These grants are allocated in four phases across each year.

Cumbria Woodlands accepts applications from landowners and community groups who want to plant trees, hedges or woodlands in valleys around the pipeline route. Grants are available for plants, trees, fencing and protective materials, as well as support and advice from Cumbria Woodlands. Applications for support are welcomed over the winter so that schemes can be approved before the end of this winter’s planting season in the early spring.

As well as its targeted community fund, United Utilities’ West Cumbria pipeline is pumping other economic benefits into the North West, creating 225 directly employed jobs for the duration of the pipeline scheme and using local suppliers wherever possible. All told, the company estimates its project will boost the regional economy of around £52 million.

For more information or application details please visit:

Cumbria Legacy Fund: cumbriafoundation.org

Cumbria Tree Fund: cumbriawoodlands.co.uk

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