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Caithness village centre and gin distillery benefit from SSE coronavirus response grants


By Alan Hendry

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Funding has come through the Beatrice offshore wind farm project.
Funding has come through the Beatrice offshore wind farm project.

Two organisations in Caithness are among those sharing in a £550,000 package of community support from SSE as part of the energy firm's rapid response to the coronavirus crisis.

The money – awarded to groups in Scotland, England and Ireland – represents more than half of the £1 million made available by SSE to help in the Covid-19 fight and has been distributed within just six weeks.

The impact of the virus outbreak led to grants from the SSE Renewables and Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) businesses being quickly repurposed and turned around.

Those benefiting from the funding include the Dunbeath and District Centre, which received £10,000 to deliver hot meals, shopping and prescriptions to people who have self-isolated, and the Ice and Fire gin distillery at Latheron, which was awarded more than £9000 to produce 2000 litres of hand sanitiser through the Beatrice-linked fund.

This is being sent out free to community groups involved in the coronavirus response, including frontline services and vulnerable individuals.

Jacqueline Black, of Ice and Fire Distillery, said: "Covid-19 is not going away any time soon so I think that using hand sanitiser is going to be a part of daily life, and the ability to give it to people free is fantastic.

“Without the financial aid and support from the local panel of the Beatrice Offshore Wind Farm fund, this project would not have been possible.

"Their support was the catalyst for all the other agencies coming on board. This really shows how the local community can benefit from the fund and how vital the fund is at a time like this.”

Bottles of the Ice and Fire hand sanitiser are being sent out free to community groups involved in the coronavirus response.
Bottles of the Ice and Fire hand sanitiser are being sent out free to community groups involved in the coronavirus response.

SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies explained that community groups knew best how to get help quickly to those needing it the most.

He said: “Local communities are so impressive in how they’ve rallied and established response projects so quickly, and our in-house team have worked with them to treble our normal rate of grant-giving in just six weeks.

“The immediate response to this unprecedented public health emergency is one thing, but we know the road to recovery is going to be a long one. SSE’s model for sharing the economic value of its investments with local places will prove to be even more critical in helping communities and their economies bounce back in the medium term and we’ll be looking at how we adapt our community funds to stimulate recovery activity.”

Grants of £3000 are being made available to community, parish and town councils in the north of Scotland and central southern England through the SSEN Resilient Community Fund. It will be distributing its awards throughout May.

Information on SSE’s community funds can be found here.


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