Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) has awarded over £50,000 to communities across the Highlands and Islands to support the response to the coronavirus crisis.

Among 27 projects supported through SSEN's Resilient Communities Fund are awards to provide food and materials to vulnerable people and community-run projects including befriending schemes and communication initiatives.

Castlebay Community Council in Barra is using SSEN funding to support a home delivery service, food bank, telephone service for adults with additional support needs, free hand sanitiser for vulnerable people and key workers and virtual craft sessions.

Katie Denehy of Castlebay Community Council, said: "SSEN funds are going to various community groups who are helping to support the most vulnerable and isolated people in our rural community. This fund will help make a huge difference and is greatly appreciated and received."

Also being supported are food delivery services co-ordinated by Iochdar, North Uist and Bornish Community Councils, a lifting cushion and iPads for elderly people in Great Bernera and radios in South Harris. PPE equipment and volunteer expenses are also being supported throughout the islands

Nik Wheeler, head of SSEN's Highlands and Islands region, said: "Our teams have always been part of the communities we serve, and over the past few months we've been working hard to keep the power flowing to the homes, businesses, care homes and hospitals across our region, as everyone knows how important electricity is in the nation's fight against coronavirus.  

"It's been heart-warming to see how quickly communities have rallied together to look out for each other and support those most vulnerable, so I'm pleased our repurposed Resilient Communities Fund will help in their ongoing response, reaching different communities across the Western Isles." 

Since its launch in 2015, SSEN's Resilient Communities Fund has provided over £2.7 million to build resilience and protect those most vulnerable.  The criteria for this year's fund was changed following consultation with SSEN stakeholder groups, who strongly supported opening the fund early and targeting coronavirus response.