His Majesty’s Lord Lieutenant for the Isle of Wight, Susie Sheldon, hosted a celebratory event on 8 June to recognise the hard work and dedication of community groups and charities based on the Island, along with representatives from Hampshire & the Isle of Wight Community Foundation (HIWCF) who help to fund them.
A ‘Seeing is Believing’ event held at the Royal Yacht Squadron offered community groups the opportunity to showcase recently funded work to a number of individuals, business supporters and donors from the Island and Hampshire, whilst an evening reception in the Pavilion celebrated the many innovative and energetic
groups who work tirelessly to support the Island’s people. Groups showcased during the Seeing is Believing event included IOW Youth Trust, Saturday Club for Deaf Children, Ability Dogs 4 Young People – who brought along several assistance dogs, and Bodster Equine Therapy who brought along ‘Tippy’ the horse.
Over the period 2017 – 2022 HIWCF made grants to small community groups and charities supporting Island people to the tune of £1.2million, with grants awarded during 2022 in the region of more than £219,000.
However, in her opening speech, Jacqui Scott HIWCF CEO said that more support is needed for the Island which disproportionately faces some of the UK’s most serious social issues, saying: “Community groups are now seeing increased need from people they may not have traditionally supported in the past, for example, more families with both parents working are seeking help than ever before”.
Rachel Thompson, speaking on behalf of Pan Together, a community centre in a part of Newport ranked one the 5% most deprived in the whole country, said: “Nobody should have to choose between fuel, food, and children’s clothes. We (small charities) can’t change the world, but we can make a real and tangible difference to peoples’ everyday lives. The need is pressing and urgent.”
In 2019 (most recent data) 35% of children there were reportedly growing up in poverty, against an England average of 17%. Demand for support from Pan Together has grown at unprecedented levels, with a 183% increase in visitors to the Pan Community Larder in the first quarter of 2023 – the majority of whom are working families.
Over the past 20 years, HIWCF has built up an endowment fund of around £15 million, the returns from which are made available each year for grant making. It is an independent charitable trust, established to inspire local giving for local needs. Approximately 25,000 people on the Island benefitted from support last year alone, helping many to improve their employability, supporting families with the ongoing cost-of-living crisis and more.