This year, the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) has provided £251,000 of vital funding to nearly 30 local charities tackling poverty on the Isle of Wight.

The need for financial support through charity funding couldn’t be greater, particularly for families affected by the cost of living crisis and who are living in the toughest conditions. Research shows that 35% of children are living in poverty on the Island; more than double the national average of 17%. At a household level, average salaries are lower on the Island in comparison to the rest of the UK, and unemployment rates are higher.

HIWCF funding has been crucial in enabling small Island charities embedded in the community to deliver life-changing support. In September alone, £73,000 was donated to 17 community groups. Throughout the year, these grants have supported groups delivering support to Island communities in a huge range of ways – sports and physical well being, young people’s mental health, involvement in the arts, alleviating the cost of living crisis and support for people with disabilities or long term medical conditions.

With mental health related hospital admissions for young people on the Island at the highest rate nationally, and more than three times the English average, HIWCF’s new ‘Young Island Lives Fund’ has been vital in supporting young people who face barriers to living their fullest lives, particularly those who may be living in poverty, facing discrimination or isolation.

In Newport, Rachel Thomson is the Community Centre Manager at Pan Together, a community centre supporting people facing multiple challenges. Pan Together received £5,000 through the Isle of Wight Community Fund, managed by HIWCF. Rachel says:

“A significant number of our local residents are amongst the most vulnerable and marginalised people in society, and the need for our support has grown at unprecedented levels. We’ve seen a 264% increase in visitors to the Pan Community Larder in the first six months of 2023 – the majority of whom are working families. Nobody should have to choose between fuel, food and children’s clothes. Small charities can’t change the world, but we can and do make a real and tangible difference to peoples’ everyday lives. The cost of living need is pressing and urgent.”

Jacqui Scott, CEO of HIWCF says:

“HIWCF funding has become a lifeline for small charities making big impacts in the communities they serve. Island philanthropists recognise there is a very real need to support charities who work directly with families and understand their most critical needs. Alongside our donors, we work hard to provide vital funds where they are needed most. But the reality is that we receive applications for funding that far outstrip the amount we have available – this year we had to turn down around half the groups applying for funding from us, because we simply don’t have enough funds available.  We are unique in offering philanthropists and companies the opportunity to make endowment donations – that will create a legacy for Island communities that will last forever.  We look forward to seeing the impact that this latest funding creates, and hope in the future to see more Island-based donors coming forward to help support Island causes – through one off-funding programmes and through endowment donations.” 

Independent Arts received funding through HIWCF, enabling the most vulnerable people in society to connect socially through various arts-based activities. This funding directly supports adults living with severe anxiety, providing coping techniques based on mindfulness and creativity. Crucially, it unlocks valuable access to peer support workers. The charity will be supported to continue working with young people who are disadvantaged and affected by various mental health issues, providing weekly sessions led by an arts practitioner to work on individual and collaborative arts projects that may include poetry, songwriting, mural-making, lino-printing, textile repurposing and music.

“We are really fortunate to have been awarded two grants, and we cannot thank the HIWCF enough for enabling us to progress our creative sessions aimed at young people aged 10-20 and adults with a range of mental health difficulties, for whom the arts and the interaction with artists provide meaningful and valuable therapy.”

Since the pandemic Saturday Club for Deaf Children has been working hard to help children with hearing loss with the additional emotional and social difficulties that came from months spent in isolation, and the anxiety it generated. The charity, which supports children aged 4 to 18 years, received funding to cover ferry fares for day trips to the mainland, an annual caravan weekend and theatre trips to support their communication and social interaction needs.

““We have been designing social activities specifically aimed at supporting the ongoing needs of our young members, and the funding from HIWCF will be a most welcome addition, making a huge difference to the deaf children and families we work with.”

Funds from the Isle of Wight Community Fund are usually distributed annually. Up to a quarter of the Community Foundation’s total annual funding reaches Island groups; a total of £1.2 Million in the past six years.

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