An innovative environmental project on the Isle of Wight to help people keep warm, manage fuel costs, and save energy is among four initiatives sharing in more than £274,000 in grants by the Big Lottery Fund across the South East.

Comedy and folk entertainer Richard Digance presented a cheque to the Footprint Trust on behalf of the National Lottery on Saturday 22 March to Mark Russell – the charity’s support worker.

Vulnerable residents in the Isle of Wight will soon be taking advantage of a unique environmental project, which will provide support with home heating bills and top tips on saving energy. The Footprint Trust’s Warmahome project will target older people, those with disabilities, one parent families, and people living on low incomes, to provide vital information and guidance on how to access benefits, grants, tax initiatives and loans to help fight fuel poverty.

The project will provide free home assessments, giving energy saving guidance on boilers, windows and insulation, and offer impartial advice on ways to reduce energy bills. The scheme aims to improve the safety, well-being and quality of life for vulnerable residents across the island.

Ray Harrington-Vail of the Footprint Trust said: “We feel we’ve now won the Lottery! Thanks to this funding Warmahome will be launched in April and we will be attending a major community event at the end of May to promote the project. We will be able to reach out and assist some 3,000 people over the next three years, and help households to become more efficient in their use of fuel which will reduce their costs, fight poverty and reduce carbon emissions.”

Thanks to funding from the National Lottery – Big Lottery Fund, the Footprint Trust, an environmental charity that serves the Isle of Wight, will be able to tackle fuel poverty and act on Climate Change.

Alison Rowe, Big Lottery Fund Head of Region for the South East, said: “These projects are excellent examples of how the Reaching Communities programme is supporting disadvantaged people across the region. Whether it be helping the vulnerable keep warm, providing affordable furniture for people on low incomes, distributing vital food supplies or improving access and facilities for those with disabilities, the funding will offer better chances in life and ultimately work to create stronger communities.”

Fuel poverty causes misery and ill-health for a large number of households in the UK. On average 40,000 more people die in the winter months than at other times of the year. Many more live in homes, which they cannot afford to heat and have to make tough choices between heating or eating, thermals or the thermostat.

Fuel poverty is closely related to housing conditions. The Isle of Wight is a mainly rural county and many areas feature in the indices of poverty. Over 70% of post 1919 houses have no cavity insulation. Of homes built between 1945 and 1964 some 12.5% have no loft insulation. A very high percentage of all dwellings do not have the full 100mm of loft insulation.

The Footprint Trust have been able to negotiate a special rate on loft and cavity insulation whereby many local homeowners will get it free or at a greatly reduced rate. For more details please contact them on 82-22-82.

Householders aged 60 and over make up 52% of fuel poor on Island and families with children 37%. As expected fuel poverty disproportionately affects single parent households, the retired and those in receipt of means-tested benefits. It also affects a higher proportion of social and private-rented housing, although the greatest number of fuel-poor households are owner-occupied.

It was these facts that led to the Trust applying to the Big Lottery so that its staff could visit people in their homes and assist them in reducing their fuel bills and helping them access funding for home insulation. The Warmahome project will attend community events and work with Anchor Saying Put, Age Concern, the Isle of Wight Council, local churches and charities in reaching vulnerable people.

For more information please contact the Trust on 01983 82-22-82.