Children on bench WidermereWe work at the heart of local communities, and are always keen to support worthwhile grass roots initiatives, when our budgets and time commitments allow.

Our Community Fund provides grants of between £500 and £1000 (depending on the size of the project) to voluntary organisations and charities in selected communities where we are carrying out engineering work.

This fund helped 101 separate groups get projects off the ground in 2013/14. Beneficiaries ranged from church groups to hospices, sports clubs to Morris Dancing troupes, with investment taking place across the region.

For example, through our support, volunteers in Windermere have been able to renovate forgotten and dilapidated benches, many donated to the area by families in memory of loved ones.

And across Cumbria, we’ve been helping ‘first responder’ groups purchase lifesaving defibrillators. These groups, run by community volunteers, use the defibrillators in emergencies, while the ambulance is still en route. The groups are especially important in Cumbria, where the ambulances often have to travel longer distances to reach patients.

Grange and District Community First Responders, one of the most recent beneficiaries of our funding, recently saved a man’s life by using their defibrillator, after he had a heart attack on a golf course. The group’s swift actions saw them receive an award from the North West Air Ambulance.

Working with partners enables us to reach people we may not have been able to reach previously. One such partnership is UTV Media who run a programme called uCreate. This offers schools, colleges and youth groups the opportunity to write and produce a radio commercial using a real company brief and gives us the opportunity to get important business messages to young people in a fun and engaging way.

2013/2014 was our third year working with the programme and students got to base their ad on one of our core customer campaigns -Think Before You Flush, water efficiency or reservoir safety.  See case study.

If you would like to send us a comment about this report, please email our Head of Sustainability, Chris Matthews