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Applications now open for SWR’s successful community investment fund

  • The Customer and Communities Improvement Fund supports projects that have a community benefit or address an area of social need on the South Western Railway network 
  • Interested bidders can apply for funding from now until the end of 31 December 2023 
  • Since the first round in 2018, over £7 million has been awarded in grant funding to more than 100 projects 
  • Vauxhall City Farm in South West London, which received funding this year, sets out the difference their grant will make here 

SOUTH Western Railway (SWR) is inviting applications for the next round of its successful Customer and Communities Improvement Fund (CCIF). 

CCIF supports small and medium-sized projects with a community benefit or that address an area of social need somewhere on the SWR network, which serves Berkshire, Devon, Dorset, London, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Somerset, Surrey and Wiltshire. 

The new funding round for the year 2024-25 has now opened, with applications judged on criteria including*: 

  • Addressing community or social need 
  • Demonstration of benefits 
  • Deliverability against costs and timescales 
  • Alignment with our charitable giving policy 
  • Links to the railway 

*Match funding is not a necessity for a grant application, however having additional funding available will be considered in the scoring and judging of applications.   

SWR welcomes bids from grassroots or neighbourhood groups, local authorities, elected representatives, civic societies, charities, sports teams, social clubs, or any other organisation with a great idea for how CCIF may be able to help their community. 

Applications can be submitted until the end of Sunday 31 December 2023. Any proposed project must be completed by 31 March 2025. More information about how to submit a proposal can be found on SWR’s CCIF webpage.

Since the launch of the first round of CCIF in 2018, SWR has awarded more than £7 million in funding to a wide range of projects. This year, for the 2023-24 round, grant funding was awarded to 58 projects. 

The projects funded included: a new cycle hub at Hinchley Wood station to promote sustainable onward travel; a safe space outside Richmond station on weekend nights in partnership with the British Transport Police and others; improved, greener facilities at Smallbrook Junction where the Island Line connects with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway; and funding for Guide Dogs to support people with sight loss. 

Vauxhall City Farm in South West London also received a CCIF grant this year. One of the capital’s top urban farms, Vauxhall City Farm provides educational programmes and community engagement activities for adults and children alike in one of London’s most deprived boroughs.  

The grant will upgrade and reinforce the farm’s perimeter fence, ensuring the safety of visitors, volunteers, and the roughly 100 animals that call the farm their home, and contribute to a more enjoyable and educational experience for all. In addition, the farm will create a new orchard to provide a bounty of fresh produce for community use. 

Their Deputy Chief Executive, Charlotte MacDonald, discusses the contribution the farm makes to the community, introduces some of the farm’s most popular residents, and explains the positive impact that SWR’s investment will make here

Peter Williams, South Western Railway’s Customer and Commercial Director, commented: 

“It has been wonderful to see the real difference that CCIF grants delivered by SWR have been making to the communities we are proud to serve across our region.  

“We are delighted to confirm that we are now accepting applications for the next round, and we look forward to seeing the diverse range of proposals customers and communities will have for enhancing local areas. 

“If you have an idea for how a CCIF grant could benefit your community, or would like to find out more, we warmly encourage you to get in touch.”  

Faith Boardman, Chair of Trustees at Vauxhall City Farm, said of their CCIF grant: 

“We are incredibly thankful to South Western Railway for their support. This grant will have a lasting impact on our farm and the communities we serve.  By upgrading our fencing, we can create an even safe and more inviting environment for everyone who visits us. It also allows us to continue our vital work in education and sustainability.” 

Vauxhall City Farm is a short walk from SWR’s Vauxhall station, so can be reached easily by train. More information about the farm can be found on their website

SWR’s CCIF budget is provided by the Department for Transport. The total budget available for CCIF will be determined through SWR’s Annual Business Plan process that sets the total budget available for the coming railway year.

In the 2023-24 CCIF fund, SWR invested in: 

  • 19 projects in Hampshire, worth more than £500,000 in total 
  • 9 projects in Surrey, worth more than £160,000 in total 
  • 9 projects in Greater London, worth more than £330,000 in total 
  • 8 projects on the Isle of Wight, worth almost £140,000 in total 
  • 6 projects in Berkshire, worth almost £100,000 in total 
  • 4 projects in Devon, worth more than £95,000 in total 
  • 1 project each in Dorset and Wiltshire, worth £75,000 and £34,500 respectively 
  • A network-wide project worth around £35,000 

More information on the 2023-24 CCIF programme can be found here