Trust gains prestigious Queen’s Award

The Island’s Footprint Trust charity has been named as a recipient of the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service 2013.

The Trust is well known for its work with all sections of the Isle of Wight community, delivering practical projects and guidance. The charity promotes the benefits of sustainable living, which has been achieved by the delivery of a number of projects since its launch in 2002. These range from schemes encouraging energy and water efficiency to practical community projects improving the local environment for people and wildlife.

Carole Walker, the charity’s chairman said;

“The Trust is honoured and delighted at this award. It will assist in promoting our work and help us to gain more help for the Isle of Wight. We are very grateful to Her Majesty for this Award and for the encouragement and support we have received from the Lord Lieutenant and High Sherriff.”

Colin Withers, a trustee of The Footprint Trust stated.

“Our volunteers, staff and trustees see this Award as an appreciation of all the hard work they have put in over many years.”

The main beneficiaries of the Footprint trust’s work are people in fuel poverty, who are assisted via the charity’s Warmahome and Energetic schemes. The island has some of the poorest wards in England. The Trust provides tailored guidance to householders and helps those on very low incomes get free insulation for their homes and free A* rated appliances. More recently thanks to funding from DECC they provided over 40 homes with a raft of measures ranging from free insulation to new boilers. This has also reduced carbon dioxide emissions.

The general environment is improved through the Trust’s various Wardening schemes, which involve over 100 people. They also take young adults in care, out to assist on local nature reserves and open spaces. The charity runs free children’s activities out of school hours – getting young people to discover nature through fun activities. They visit schools with entertaining workshops on the water cycle and recycling. The Trust also set up the popular Adopt-A-Garden scheme whereby younger people without a growing space ‘adopt’ an older person’s garden and share the produce; over 30 volunteers are involved in this scheme. The Trust has a policy of welcoming everyone and tries to remove barriers. They also provide relevant training – be it in gardening skills or first aid.

The volunteers on the Adopt-A-Garden scheme, Cemetery Wardens, Pond Wardens and River Warden initiatives range in age from 16 to people in their 80s, also the Trust set up the IW Green Gym group – now independent – but supported and assisted by the Trust. Green Gym has over 60 volunteers taking part in some 6,000 man hours of work each year. Women and men take part in all activities. Their work is very varied ranging from practical habitat management, management of ponds and burial grounds, to giving walks and talks.

For the past four years the Trust has run Riverfest – a free community event celebrating volunteering and the environment -this attracts over 5,000 people..

Over 2,500 people benefit from the work of the Footprint Trust every year.
They were the winner of the 2012 Isle of Wight Community Action Award for the Environment. In the same year their General Manager Ray Harrington-Vail was named a National Heat Hero by National Energy Action, for his work in helping Islanders in fuel poverty. The Trust works with a wide range of local charities.

The Trust’s work is often featured in the local media and occasionally in the national media for their Adopt-A-Garden scheme. The Community Channel is currently showing their Isle of Wight documentary entitled ‘The Thin Green Line’ and a series entitled ‘It Never Rains’ inspiring children to discover their local environment throughout the UK.

One issue for the charity has been attracting funding. Since the beginning it was realised that there was limited funding available from the Isle of Wight Council. Accordingly it has sought and obtained funding from further afield. Adopt-A-Garden is very popular; however, it receives very little financial support. The Trust collects old mobile phones and jewellery to fund this particular project!

The charity is known for it realistic and pragmatic approach to environmental and social issues. This is an environmental charity that does not have its head in the clouds. It seeks to involve all sections of the community and to get people involved in practical projects.