Northumbrian Water’s Branch Out scheme, which offers grants of up to £25,000 to projects which benefit the natural environment, wildlife and local communities, is calling out for new applications as the deadline for the next funding round approaches.

Since launching in 2013, Branch Out has awarded grants worth over £370,000 across over 87 different projects, and in 2017 was a finalist in the prestigious Edie Sustainability Leaders Awards, which recognises excellence and innovation in sustainability.

Northumbrian Water’s Conservation and Land Manager, Stuart Pudney, said: “We are immensely proud of the scheme and the work we do to support not only local organisations but also the region’s wildlife. A healthy natural environment is essential for us to supply clear, great tasting drinking water.

“Since the launch of Branch Out, it has made a really significant contribution in helping a range of local groups and wildlife charities build resilience and adaption to the changing climate, whilst enabling communities to reconnect with wildlife.”

Applications for Branch Out funding are reviewed every six months and are welcomed from organisations, community groups and individuals from the public, private, voluntary and education sectors. The deadline for the current round of funding is 28 February 2019.

Local community group, Friends of Cocker Beck Meadows, were successful in the applying for the last round of Branch Out funding in August 2018, securing £2,500 for wildlife conservation work in Darlington.

Local resident and member of Friends of Cocker Beck Meadows, Romayne Clark, said: “I heard about the Branch Out scheme through volunteering with Northumbrian Water as a Water Ranger, where I help to monitor and protect the watercourse here at Cocker Beck.

“Applying for the funding was fairly straight-forward and we were delighted when we found out our application had been successful for wildlife improvements to the area.

“The money has so far being used to purchase 15 bird boxes and five bat boxes which have been fitted by the Friends of Cocker Beck Meadows who volunteered their time. The new boxes look great and we are eagerly monitoring them for new signs of life.

“We really appreciate the money received from the Branch out funding and would encourage other groups to apply.”

Full details on how to apply are available at www.branchout-nw.co.uk. All applications will be carefully considered and judged against set criteria. Decisions for applications received by 28 February 2019 will be provided by 29 March 2019. Community projects can also be supported by Northumbrian Water’s ‘Just an Hour’ employee volunteering programme.

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