An award from the Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks’ (SSEN) Resilient Communities Fund has helped turn residents of a South Oxfordshire village into lifesavers.

Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council successfully applied to the fund last year and were granted £1,430 to provide First Aid training for 16 local residents; helping to boost the resilience of the village, which is home to some 800 people and is busy throughout the year with visitors to the area and the river.

As the village is situated on the bank of the River Thames, the local parish council was keen to enhance its emergency plan and had identified the First Aid courses that would best benefit both residents and visitors.

SSEN’s independent panel for the Resilient Communities Fund saw the need for the proposed training and agreed the award, with the village volunteers now fully certificated in First Aid after their course held at the nearby Hardwick Estate.

Jim Donahue, Chairman of Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council said:

“The Whitchurch-on-Thames First Aid course was organised for members of the community who live in houseboats on the river and some residents living in the village.

“Those gaining certificates are identified as contacts in the village's Emergency Plan and some are planning to form a local resiliency team, to ensure those trained refresh their knowledge on a regular basis.”

SSEN’s Head of Region for the area, Richard Gough said:

“I’m delighted to see how quickly the Parish Council has acted in completing these courses that will bring so much benefit to their community.

“In addition to helping keep residents safe over the quieter winter months, those trained will also be able to assist anyone visiting the area and requiring First Aid."

He continued:

“It’s always a pleasure for me to see how these applications to SSEN’s Resilient Communities Fund go from words on a document to real action that can help so many.”

Whitchurch-on-Thames Parish Council was one of 34 successful applicants to this most recent and final fund, which awarded grants totalling over £257,000, and ranging from £1,250 to over £28,000.

Successful applicants set out their cases for funding in 2023. The SSEN Resilient Communities Fund Panel, made up of organisations with expertise in community resilience planning, then reviewed and discussed all applications, before deciding which projects should receive funding in accordance with the fund’s criteria.

  • Resilience for emergency events - To enhance community facilities, services and communication specifically to support the local response in the event of a significant emergency such as extended power loss. 
  • Vulnerability - To protect the welfare of vulnerable community members particularly during significant emergency events such as extended power loss, through enhancing their resilience and improving community participation and effectiveness. 

Set up in 2015, the Resilient Communities Fund has provided around £5 million to over 700 not-for-profit community groups and charities. The 2023 Resilient Communities Fund was the final one, with SSEN Distribution preparing to develop and launching a new fund this year. While continuing to support community resilience, this new fund will seek to include environmental resilience and the adoption of low carbon technologies. Details and timescales will be announced in due course.

To find out more about the Resilient Communities Fund and read SSEN’s annual fund reports, please visit