The grant, awarded from Kent Community Energy’s COVID-19 Emergency Community Fund will be used to cover the cost of the charity’s Community Support Worker for six months to ensure ongoing professional support is maintained for the people in its community, known as companions, despite a significant reduction in income due to temporary shop closures.
Kent Community Energy, a community owned energy society, has made the grant from the community benefit fund of its solar farm near Sittingbourne. It forms part of a programme of grants to support local charities to respond to the coronavirus emergency.
The decision to release the community benefit fund for these grants followed consultation between Kent Community Energy and Community Owned Renewable Energy (CORE) which has invested in and supports the solar farm until it becomes fully community owned later this year.
Debbie Stevenson, Community Manger at Emmaus Dover, said:
“Emmaus Dover has been severely affected by the coronavirus lockdown as we have had to close our three shops to keep our companions, staff and customers safe. Despite our shops being closed, we’re doing all we can to support our companions and keep them safe. Companions have been staying active and doing a great job of maintaining the community and grounds during lockdown.
“We are so grateful for the £5,000 grant from Kent Community Energy and it will help to ensure that our staff team continues providing vital professional support for our companions, which is needed now more than ever in these unprecedented times.
“At Emmaus, we provide more than just a bed for the night but offer a home for as long as needed, the opportunity to gain work experience in our shops, and tailored support to help people rebuild their lives following homelessness. Many of our companions have come to us with varying degrees of mental health issues, drug and alcohol addictions, and lost self-esteem and dignity as a result of homelessness or social exclusion. We have capacity for 27 people and our aim is to help build them back up and offer support in all areas of their lives.”
Emmaus Dover provides a home, work and individual support to people who have experienced homelessness or social exclusion. The temporary closure of the three Emmaus shops due to the coronavirus situation means that the charity is facing a shortfall.
Debs Golden, Community Leader at Emmaus Dover, said:
“The lockdown meant that we needed to furlough our Community Support Worker. Support is still being given to the companions, but this has been done over the phone. Having the Support Worker back within the community will increase the level of support we can offer, and this will have a positive effect on the mental well-being of everyone.”
Penny Shepherd, Adviser at Kent Community Energy, said:
“We are very pleased that our community solar farm can help to plug the gap in funding for organisations like Emmaus Dover and so, as we come out of lockdown, play a part in building a society that is more resilient against both social problems and climate change.”
To find out more about Kent Community Energy, supported by Community Owned Renewable Energy LLP (CORE), visit: https://www.next-generation.org.uk/kentcommunityenergy
To support Emmaus Dover, visit https://emmaus.org.uk/dover/support-us/coronavirus-emergency-appeal/