Since launching in 2013, Branch Out has awarded grants worth in excess of £410,000 across more than 105 different projects, and in 2017 was a finalist in the prestigious Edie Sustainability Leaders Awards, which recognises excellence and innovation in sustainability.
Essex & Suffolk Water's Conservation and Land Manager, Miranda Cooper, said: "We are immensely proud of our programme, which is helping to deliver local projects to reconnect habitats for the benefit of communities and wildlife. Building resilience is essential for supporting a healthy natural environment and for us to supply clear, great tasting drinking water.
"It's fantastic we can support local groups, organisations and charities in helping to make a difference to the communities we serve. I'd urge anyone with a deserving project, who is seeking funding, to apply."
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 within Essex & Suffolk Water's operating area. The deadline for the current round of funding is February 28, 2020 with grants being awarded in March 2020.
Christine Luxton, Head of Engagement at Suffolk Wildlife Trust, said: "Branch Out funding is helping to realise our big ambition for Carlton Marshes, on the edge of Lowestoft. With 1,000 acres of wetland nature reserve and a new visitor centre, Carlton Marshes will be an oasis for local people and boost nature tourism to the town.
"Carlton Marshes is home to some of the UK's rarest wetland wildlife, which will all benefit from the work which Essex & Suffolk Water have helped to make happen."
Projects can also be supported by Essex & Suffolk Water's employee volunteering programme, Just an Hour, which allows employees to give a minimum of 15 hours every year to support community and charitable causes close to their hearts.
Eileen Marshall, CEO at St Luke's Hospice, said: "A second St Luke's Hospice location is currently under construction in the Thurrock area of our catchment, which will include eight new outdoor environments. Considered planting will support pollinators and wildlife and include flowers, herbs and plants with moderate water needs. Each of the six new In-Patient bedrooms will have private access to a ‘Giving Garden', providing a peaceful and tranquil space.
"We were also thrilled to receive the additional offer of support from a member of the Essex & Suffolk Conservation team, a specialist in nature grassland habitat, to advise on the planting and management. We look forward to working together to deliver the project by the end of 2020, and extend our services for those needing palliative and end of life care in South West Essex."
Credits: Images taken by John Ferguson and Steve Aylward, courtesy of Suffolk Wildlife Trust.