Trust helps elderly and tackles poverty

The Island’s Footprint Trust has now become a household name on the Isle of Wight. Set up in 2002 to reduce the Isle of Wight’s ecological footprint. It has now assisted around 20% of local people to reduce their use of the world’s resources. Over the past few years the Trust has promoted sustainable living through a number of projects linked to nature conservation, reducing waste, wise use of water, energy efficiency and support for renewable energies.

In the last year the Trust has focussed on those in fuel poverty through their Big Lottery funded Warmahome scheme. This has helped those on low incomes to obtain free or reduced price cavity and loft insulation along with guidance on ways to save energy and stay warm. This in turn has reduced fuel costs to many elderly and vulnerable people. The Trust received a boost at Christmas when local international yachtswoman Dame Ellen MacArthur backed their campaign. The publicity this brought led to some 100 people contacting the charity.

“Thanks to Dame Ellen’s support many people are no longer living in fear of their next fuel bill…”

Said Colin Withers a director of the Footprint Trust.

All told during 2008 the Trust carried out 61 home visits, giving guidance and handing out low energy bulbs. PowerDown plugs to automatically switch off computer peripherals were distributed on behalf of the Pension Service. Timer switches ,donated by Hampshire Police, to turn on a “security light” when residents are out were given away. They also gave out information on behalf of the Fire Service regarding free smoke alarms, and signposted people to other organisations such as Anchor Staying Put and Age Concern, for further help. To contact the Warmahome project call 82-22-82.

In addition they gave out information on the phone, at the public events and at talks to clubs and societies. In total some 3000 people have been assisted. Their free guidance on energy and water efficiency is estimated to save the average family around £100 per year. The total amount of money saved by householders through adopting efficiency measures is around £90,000. The Trust has given away over 800 low energy bulbs over the past year.

They estimate that as a result of their work this year alone, around 125,000 kWh of electricity will be saved each year, which equates to 66,000 kilos, or 66 tonnes, of carbon reduction.

The Trust has also given away over 800 Southern Water ‘Save-a-flush’ bags. Saving some 2.3 million litres of water this year – that’s more than 3 West Wight Swimming Pools! (Based on Southern Water’s figure of 11 flushes a day for the average house size of 2.4 people).

The Footprint Trust’s Adopt-A-Garden scheme is supported by Anchor-Staying-Put and the IW Charitable Trust, is being run initially for 14 months as a pilot scheme. It seeks to bring together two types of people – those who have a garden they can no longer look after and the individual who wants a growing space. The householder gets a part of their garden looked after for free and the gardener gets a free allotment in return. On the Island it is estimated that there are over 3000 unused or overgrown gardens, which are often a great cause of concern to their owners. There are also many people on the Island with a small garden, or no garden at all, who would like a growing space. Some of these form the 300+ names on the IW Council’s waiting list for an allotment.

Just over 100 households have joined the Adopt-A-Garden scheme, of which 86 remain on the database. Of those, 29 are gardeners and 57 are garden owners and 22 matches have been made. Local authorities and charities in other parts of the UK are looking to copy this Island initiative. The scheme is still recruiting would-be gardens that would like a growing space – contact the Trust on 82-22-82 for more details or visit their website

Thirty-five Island schools have now joined the international EcoSchools project, largely thanks to the Trust’s school roadshows and eco-audits. Some 2,300 pupils and 16 schools have been involved in the last year. The schools work for this year was for the first time funded by the IW Council. Ryde Junior and Barton Primary schools were awarded their Green Flag this year. Schools visited by the Trust have made savings on their energy and water bills.

Other projects run or set up by the Trust include, IW Pond Warden scheme, IW Green Gym and the Medina River Wardens. Green Gym is now the largest practical conservation group on the Isle of Wight contributing some 5,000 hours this past year to improving the local environment.

The Footprint Trust is to hold two Future Energy events in October to highlight energy saving and renewable energy. These will build on the success of previous events, which have attracted hundreds of interested people.

“Climate change and future energy supplies are issues that must be addresses now. The Footprint Trust support wind technology and other renewables. Wind power is proven technology that is available now. Other technologies, such as tidal turbines, may be available within the next decade or so. In the meantime large scale solar and wind projects must be embarked upon. Changes must be made in planning regulations to allow renewables technologies within AONB’s, National Parks and Conservation areas.”

Said their general manager Ray Harrington-Vail.


Tel 01983 822282