Two charities in Kent receive share of £250,000 community grant scheme

In spring 2021 Southern Water set up a new community grant and customer hardship fund with a £500,000 pot. Half to be awarded to different sized charities and community groups and half to individual customers across its region (Kent, East Sussex, West Sussex, Isle of Wight and Hampshire) who may be experiencing hardship as a result of COVID-19.

Applications for level one Community Grants began in April 2021 and was open to local charities – with £100,000 to be split between 10 charities in total (two from each region).

The water company received 65 applications – 13 of which were from charities based in Kent, and all went through a selection process. It was unlike any previously undertaken by the company, and involved five regional employee groups and a customer and youth panel overseeing the decision-making process, to ensure that the money goes right into the heart of communities served by Southern Water, and where it can make the most difference – and also reflecting the current concerns of customers, young people and staff during the present post COVID climate

The two selected charities in Kent are:

Dandelion time – To support the installation of eco toilets, wildflower meadows and a new water efficient watering system of a therapeutic outdoor centre in Ashford, for children and families who have survived trauma and abuse.

Jessica Kingston-Stewart, Dandelion Time, says:  “We are delighted to have the support of Southern Water, whose generous donation will fund a sustainable and educational water management system for Dandelion Time’s new Therapeutic Centre. Working with nature is at the heart of our work and water is the lifeblood of these activities; to sustain our animals, fruit and vegetables, and to moisten the clay and wool for our handicrafts. The funding will enable us to make some strategic investments to conserve and store water, irrigate our therapeutic garden, build eco-toilets and restore our well.”

Martha’s Trust – This charity provides inclusive lifelong care for people with profound physical and multiple learning disabilities at from their care home in Deal, Kent. Funds will help care home residents and families re-emerge safely after a long period of isolation and experience social clubs. As well as improving online activities already in place supporting wellbeing and fulfilling lives.

Julie Gayler, Martha’s Trust, says: “At Martha’s Trust we make sure that the profoundly disabled people we care for enjoy as full and active a life as possible. We help them to achieve their potential and, where possible, their independence, and we respect their right to privacy, choice and dignity. We are extremely grateful to Southern Water and to their employees and customers who have been involved in the selection process for their new community grants scheme. The money awarded to Martha’s Trust will be used to fund part of the activities programme for the coming year.”


Alex Willumsen, Community Partnership Officer, Southern Water, adds: “We received a huge number of applicants for the level one community grants scheme; reflecting the huge fundraising crisis and need local charities are facing at this time.  We invited applications under our three categories which are aligned to our company purpose; enhancing health and wellbeing, protecting the environment and sustaining the economy through tackling inequalities and hardship.  But crucially the ultimate selection process put our customer, young people and employee’s voices at the heart of the decision-making process to ensure these awards best reflected our local communities’ needs and concerns at this time.”

Level two Community Grants scheme remains open for smaller charities, CIC, non-profit and volunteer-led organisations and invites community groups to apply for their share of a £100,000 pot. This is to help support our communities to thrive and reflects the hard work smaller community –groups and volunteers who have responded to the challenges in our community during the past 18 months. This will be followed by a further donation later in the year for larger charities who support causes chosen by our employees, customer and youth panel and work across our entire region. 

The separate customer hardship fund remains open to support those experiencing hardship and who need further support outside Southern Waters existing payment support tariffs.

Southern Water hopes that its customers will watch with interest as they follow these charities in the coming weeks and months to see how they utilise their funding, details can be found at and on their social media channels.

Notes to editors:

Southern Water supported interested charities and community groups with online seminars and Q&A sessions open to all, to ensure the application process was accessible to both charities who are used to writing fundraising applications as well as smaller, volunteer-led groups.

In addition to inviting applications for funds to support a specific project or on-going service, Southern Water spoke to all applicants to ascertain if any additional support outside of funding can be offered; such as volunteer hours, storage space, training or skills support – to ensure the community grant scheme fully meets the needs of these hardworking charities.

Southern Water provided a £250 donation to all shortlisted Level 1 community grant applicants, regardless of final outcome. This was to honour time spent in preparing the funding application. Where possible individual feedback on the application outcomes was provided, to support future applications for charities.