VOLUNTARY groups and charities helping communities recover from the Covid-19 pandemic have been boosted with grants through a partnership between Wessex Water and Dorset Community Foundation.

The Wessex Water Recovery Fund is part of the Wessex Water Foundation, a multi-million pound initiative launched last June.

Grants are targeted at people struggling with money, schemes to strengthen communities, green recovery initiatives and projects to enhance nature and wildlife.

Among the 22 recipients of the £43,750 awarded through Dorset Community Foundation is disabilities charity Home-Start South East Dorset, which received £2,400 to help it support families in the Bournemouth area.

Volunteers will offer parents weekly support for six months by phone, while Covid restrictions apply, to talk about the pressures they face, discuss coping strategies and signpost them to other help.

Fundraiser Sally Smith said: “Our project will support disadvantaged families with young children adversely affected by Covid-19 who are struggling to cope with financial hardship, mental health difficulties and isolation.

“Families can also join one of our weekly family groups on Zoom or one of the Wellness Walks and access to join WhatsApp group where parents can talk and we will share daily posts with activities, advice, music and meditation.”

In Jolly Good Company received £720 to set up a new dementia friendly gardening group in Blandford, working with Dementia Friendly Blandford and the town council.

The group works with older people with dementia and aims to tackle loneliness and isolation by arranging get-togethers, clubs and outings.

Staff member Sarah Rampton said the charity plans to run two groups a month.

“We have been asked by the town council if we can help to maintain and improve the sensory garden in the Woodhouse Gardens,” she said.

The community foundation’s Dorset Community Coronavirus Fund has distributed more than £1 million through 328 grants to groups across the county.

Dorset Community Foundation Director Grant Robson said: “We are so pleased that our relationship with Wessex Water means there will be this vital extra support for Dorset groups who have been unable to fundraise in order to maintain their services.

“Wessex Water chooses to work with us because we know where this money is needed the most.”

Kirsty Scarlett, Wessex Water’s head of community engagement, added: “The Wessex Water Foundation aims to help groups recovering from the impact of Covid-19 on local communities and to help local organisations and charities in building resilience for the future.

“I'm delighted to be able to share the news that our local community panels have now decided which organisations will receive funding."

For details of how to donate to the fund, go to dorsetcommunityfoundation.org.