The Footprint Trust is the leading fuel poverty charity on the Isle of Wight. They help people to keep warm and well and reduce their home energy and water use, with specialised guidance delivered by trained staff.
Players of People’s Postcode Lottery awarded The Footprint Trust £20,000 in funding last year from People’s Postcode Trust, a grant giving charity funded by the lottery players. The funding has allowed the Footprint Trust to reduce fuel poverty and help 968 households on the Isle of Wight reduce their energy bills by over £100,000.
The funding was initially intended to provide sustainable support for people struggling with high home energy and water bills but with the onset of COVID 19, it enabled the Footprint Trust to change its working practices so it could continue to support vulnerable people on the Isle of Wight during the lockdown.
The Footprint Trust became increasingly busy month on month over autumn and winter as the colder weather set in, the need their guidance in helping people in financial difficulty, was considerable. The Trust had their busiest winter, due to the pandemic and the associated increased poverty. The Trust’s dedicated 822282 helpline did not stop ringing.
General manager of The Footprint Trust, Ray Harrington-Vail said;
“We put our clients on the Priority Service Register which offers emergency help for vulnerable people in a gas, electric or water outage, we referred people onto other bodies for additional support, including Citizens Advice, veteran and other charities…”
When the PPT provided funding, no one could have predicted the economic fallout that would result from the Covid-19 pandemic. On 23rd March 2020 the Prime Minister addressed that nation concerning the major health threat posed by Covid. Amongst measures announced were that people should only go to work where it was absolutely necessary and that staff should work from home if possible, that social distancing should be practiced to prevent infec-tion rates going up.
“To protect our vulnerable clients, the larger community and our staff and volunteers all home visits were cancelled with immediate effect. We replaced home visits with pre-booked phone visits.”
“The Trust already had a flood plan, as our offices are at the Riverside Centre an area at risk of flooding. That plan involved moving computers etc to homes of staff and diverting phones. That plan was used for the Covid emergency.”
The Footprint Trust contacted the PPT and sought permission to change its operation practices, face-to-face training of frontline workers, would be moved online via Zoom and Teams. Clients would be helped via the phone, email and social media. Thanks to People’s Postcode Trust’s realistic and supportive approach, the Footprint Trust were able to continue to serve vulnerable people through the pandemic, particularly through the recent cold snap.
Laura Chow, head of charities at People’s Postcode Lottery, said:
“Many of us have been spending more time at home than ever before so I’m delighted funding raised by players of People’s Postcode Lottery has enabled the Footprint Trust to help tackle fuel poverty and help so many households on the Isle of Wight become more energy efficient.”