The Sizewell C Community Fund will invest £23 million to enhance the social, environmental and economic wellbeing of East Suffolk over the next decade. 

A new fund will ensure that local communities most impacted by the construction of Sizewell C can apply for grants, schemes, measures and projects which promote the economic, social, or environmental well-being of those communities and enhance their quality of life.

Suffolk Community Foundation will manage the new Sizewell C Community Fund, prioritising how the £23m investment will be spent.

Established in 2005, Suffolk Community Foundation is a registered charity based in Wherstead that gives monetary grants to charities and community organisations to support disadvantaged local people and improve their lives.

It particularly focuses on projects that address poverty, health and wellbeing, inequality, equity and the environment.

One of 47 community foundations in the UK, it awards around £5 million in funding each year, which ranges from grants of £500 to £40,000. To date, Suffolk Community Foundation has awarded 9,500 grants totaling £40 million across 3,000 local charities and 12,000 community groups.

East Anglian Daily Times: Melanie Craig, CEO of Suffolk Community FoundationMelanie Craig, CEO of Suffolk Community Foundation (Image: Simply C Photography)

CEO Melanie Craig said that Suffolk Community Foundation is the “conduit” to ensuring the funding from Sizewell C reaches those who need it most.

“Sizewell wanted to have a partner that had deep knowledge of the communities and the charitable sector that could distribute their community funds,” she said.

“All of the money that we bring in goes to charities to support people in Suffolk. We feel strongly we are the best placed to distribute the money for it to make the biggest impact.”

Around £2m will be made available through grants each year over a 10-year period to communities within East Suffolk and living near the development, including the main development site where the power station is being built and associated development sites. Grants may be applied for by registered charities, voluntary organisations, parish councils, social enterprises, or public bodies. The initiative follows a similar programme of investment from EDF Energy during the construction of Hinkley Point C, which was administered by Somerset Community Foundation.

An awards panel has been set up, which will be responsible for making decisions about where the money goes. It includes partners from East Suffolk Council, Suffolk County Council, Community Action Suffolk, University of Suffolk and Sizewell C. The panel also includes two people who have been appointed directly from the community and have a deep connection and knowledge of the local area. The panel is chaired by Suffolk Community Foundation trustee Helen Taylor.

“It’s very important that this money is spent in line with the needs of the community, which is why we set up this panel,” Melanie said.

The Sizewell C Community Fund will begin inviting applications later this summer, and will be looking for bids from projects which aim to minimise the environmental, economic, and social impacts of the project, whilst maximising the environmental, economic, and social benefits.

“If your charity or community group is within the defined area of benefit in East Suffolk and can do any of that, please keep an eye on our website and apply for a grant when the fund opens later this year,” Melanie said. “We’ll be able to make vastly bigger grants than usual and to make grants over multiple years.”

Suffolk Community Foundation is currently developing the grants criteria and putting an application process in place to make it as easy as possible for groups to bid for money. There will be more than one opportunity during the year to apply and it is hoped the first payments will be distributed by the end of this year.

“The funding is an opportunity to make a transformational impact on people’s lives in a positive way,” Melanie added. “If this money is well spent, it can leave a really lasting legacy for local people through bringing opportunities that they may never have had.”

East Anglian Daily Times: Julia Pyke, joint managing director of Sizewell CJulia Pyke, joint managing director of Sizewell C (Image: EDF)

Julia Pyke, joint managing director of Sizewell C, said: “We want the Sizewell C Community Fund to be as accessible as possible and have the biggest possible impact locally. Suffolk Community Foundation is perfectly placed to ensure that happens and to deliver a fund that could be truly transformational for communities in East Suffolk.

“We’re excited to see the projects that take this opportunity and really make a difference in the county.”

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This article is part of the EADT's Clean & Green campaign, which aims to promote our region as the biggest in the UK and Europe for all forms of renewable energy.