Cash injection helps fund emergency communications for Sussex

Sussex is to get a new mobile emergency communications hub thanks to a £20,000 donation from the local electricity distributor, Southern Electric Power Distribution (SEPD).

The countywide group of radio enthusiasts from the Radio Amateurs’ Emergency Network, RAYNET, will use the money to build a mobile hub that will be used in the event of severe storms and major incidents where communications may be required.

The emergency hub will allow RAYNET’s members and other agencies to send and receive voice messages over RAYNET’s radios and data in areas where traditional communications links may be down, making a massive difference to residents across the county during storms and other emergencies that might adversely affect power supplies, phone and broadband signals.

Phill Hills, the South East England Zone Coordinator for RAYNET and a member of South Sussex RAYNET, said: “This donation is going to make a huge difference to RAYNET’s capabilities and the communities across not only our home base in Sussex but also the neighbouring counties of Surrey and Hampshire. If the communications network gets disrupted during an emergency, our network will be able to provide a greater level of support to the county’s emergency services and the council, contributing towards the safety of residents and the protection of the environment. 

“During extreme weather events, particularly flooding, it’s quite possible that people will have to leave their homes and so our new vehicle can also help residents keep in touch with friends or family. As well as providing communications facilities, we will also be able to offer wi-fi, which plays such a key part in the daily lives of so many people nowadays.”

Chris Slingsby, SEPD’s Head of Region, says the £20,000 donation to South Sussex RAYNET is a great example of how the Resilient Communities Fund can help local people, having worked through various storms and weather events during his 26 years with SEPD : “Our Resilient Communities Fund is all about helping communities be better prepared in the face of extreme weather or other emergencies, and I think this application from RAYNET is a really innovative way of dealing with situations when traditional communications links may be down. 

“My memories of the flooding which battered the south of England in winter 2014 are still very clear, and having been up to my knees in the high waters myself, I can fully appreciate how worrying it can be for customers if they’re not able to keep in touch with friends and family. We want to help as many people as possible, and so I would encourage anyone else who thinks that they could benefit from RCF funding to get in touch with us to learn more about the scheme.”

This cash injection is being made as part of SEPD’s Resilient Communities Fund, designed to help local groups and not-for-profit organisations improve the ability of their towns and villages to withstand extreme weather events. 

The fund is open to non-profit making, community organisations throughout SEPD’s operating region of central southern England. For more details on the fund, please visit https://www.ssepd.co.uk/Resiliencefund/