Trust reports ‘busiest year ever’ as fuel poverty hits Isle of Wight

The local Footprint Trust charity has just celebrated its 19th year in existence and at the recent AGM the company secretary Sue Painting reported that it had just been through its busiest year to date.

She reported that the charity had the following Key Achievements in the last financial year which befitted many of those suffering the effects of fuel poverty;

  • Over 1400 people benefitted from guidance on reducing energy and water use and keeping utility bills down
  • Over 350 ‘Phone Visits’ this year
  • Average saving of £277 per household
  • £133,000 identified in annual energy savings for our clients this year
  • 700,000 Kilowatt Hours of energy saved
  • £24,000 worth of energy efficient white goods given to fuel poor households
  • Over 160 front-line workers trained in helping those in fuel poverty
  • Cut around 169 tonnes of CO2 emissions

The charity was set up in 2002 to reduce the ecological footprint of the Isle of Wight and to promote sustainable living. The Trust was born out of a desire to take action to respond to the ‘Ecological Footprint Analysis of the Isle of Wight’, published in 1999. In practical terms the charity particularly helps those in fuel poverty, by promoting energy and water efficiency which in turn cuts CO2 emissions.
They are recipients of the prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, the MBE for charities, for their pioneering work in the community. Recently they received the Vulnerable Customer Support Campaigner of the Year accolade in the regional Energy Efficiency Awards.

This year saw one of its longstanding supporters and trustee director retire from the Board in June. Dr Hugh Walding had been active in environmental circles for many years and brought his knowledge to the Trust. Sue Painting on behalf of the charity summed feelings in this message to Hugh;

“Trustees and team members alike have expressed how much your faith in the Trust during the formative years meant to them and how much your help, guidance and consistent support is appreciated.”

The Covid pandemic led to the charity immediately ceasing their home visits and outreach and bringing in social distancing and hygiene measures in their office, along with home working. The Board and staff acted quickly and sought assurances from funders. The charity came up with new ways of working so that they could support their clients and the wider community during the months ahead. They changed home visits into pre- booked ‘Phone Visits’ – asking leading questions to ascertain the help needed.

This was followed up with information sent by post or by email. Their helpline on social media platforms continued to give support and guidance to the community. The charity increased advertising and promotion through local newspapers and radio. They moved our ‘Monergy’ workshops and our frontline worker training on line using Teams and Zoom.

Their General Manager, Ray Harrington-Vail, said,

“This year saw our busiest winter since the Trust was launched, our service to the fuel poor, was in great demand. An Institute for Fiscal Studies report in June 2020 highlighted that the Isle of Wight would be one of the hardest hit areas of England, due to the economical down turn caused by the Covid pandemic, effecting health, jobs and families.”

The Trust continued to work with a diverse range of formal and informal partner organisations during the Covid crises. They are founder members of Islehelp, a grouping of the main advice and information agencies on the Isle of Wight. The organisations they work with include; Citizens Advice, Age UK, veteran charities, family centres, Food banks, Social services, Health Visitors, Carers, social and private landlords, churches, schools and local councils.

The Board expressed their thanks to the many different funders which have made the Trust’s work possible.

The Board heard an example of one of the many local people assisted.

Feedback from a complex ‘Phone Visit’…

 *Kevin had been discharged from hospital and had accrued water debt due to a leak, his boiler was not working either so he couldn’t stay warm which was affecting his mental and physical recovery. With additional funds we were able to pay for an engineer to repair the leak – preventing future high bills – and check the boiler. As the boiler was unrepairable, we referred Kevin to the ECO boiler scheme and referred him to the Southern Water Affordability Team to work out an affordable payment plan going forward.

“…you’ve lightened my load mate, I’ve been stressing on this, been really, really helpful. Could never thank you enough for all your hard work. I really couldn’t.”

Kevin’s nurse thanked us for cutting his utility bill cut by £1000, and for giving her the knowledge on how to deal with his energy dispute. “.You have no idea the difference this has made to Kevin.” She added.


To find out more about the Trust’s work on the Isle of Wight visit their website or for assistance or guidance on energy matters call them on 01983 822282.