Charity begins with Island businesses

In its first two years, the WightAID Foundation has helped an incredible 69 Island community groups and charities.

The project, made up of trustees and Island businesses, was launched in September 2016 by Geoff Underwood, managing director at IFPL. His aim was to bridge the gap between businesses who want to give back to their local community and charities who need funding.

“As my company, IFPL, has grown, the amount of money we were able to give to charities has grown, too,” said Mr Underwood. “However, with that, the administration required to make all those donations went through the roof. We became inundated with requests from small local charities, groups and good causes. Most of them were not looking for a lot of money but we continuously received numerous letters asking for support.

“I believe the local business community wants to play a greater role in supporting Island causes — and more would do so if the process of giving was more straightforward.

“So, I set up the WightAID Foundation. The foundation makes it easier for companies to support a whole range of local charities and community groups by making one donation. The foundation then distributes the funds effectively to those who need support.”

To date, the foundation has distributed more than £220,000 to local projects, including Aspire Ryde, The Bus Shelter, West Wight Sports and Leisure Centre, Cowes Sailability, 1st Shanklin Scout Group and many more.

Trustees come from all areas of the community. Patrick Moore, Sue Lucas, Steve Porter, Brian Marriott, Nick Hessey and founder, Steve Underwood, meet ten times a year for grant rounds. The money the trustees distribute has so far come from business partners such as Wightlink, Glanvilles, Christopher Scott, Westridge Skip Hire, Red Funnel, Hovertravel, JMC Hire, IFPL and many more. Business partners provide a monthly or annual donation to the cause. Other local businesses have helped with the support of their services. These ‘business buddies’ include Crossprint, Stage Gear, Cemmoc, Jason Swain Photography, Albert Cottage, IW Radio, Beacon magazine and a variety of others.

Mark Harman, of Glanvilles, said: “Supporting Island causes is important to our partners, our employees and our clients. But for a long time, we found it difficult to choose one charity on the Island. By donating to WightAID, not only is the administration taken care of, but we can support so many important causes while staying independent.”

WightAID continues to work for the whole Island but needs the continued support of the business community to help them help those in need. To get involved, visit, or call 555915 to find out more.

Island charitable groups can apply for grant funding of between £500 and £10,000 by filling out an easy application online, at or by calling 555915.

Here are some groups that have already benefited from grant funding.

West Wight Time Bank

West Wight Time Bank is a community project, which encourages residents to share strengths, skills and time with others, which they, in turn, pay forward to the West Wight community.

Four thousand hours have been banked in the last year between 60 members and 12 organisers. The youngest timebank member is 26 and the oldest 89. In its third year of operation, the West Wight Time Bank is continuing to grow, month on month.

“The WightAID grant of £2,070.32, which we received in October last year has enabled all time bank members to participate in individual and community time exchanges, as we have been able to purchase the equipment we needed to meet our outcomes,” said Sally Gaeta, founder of the West Wight Time Bank.

“The grant has been fantastic, as it has really helped us develop some sustainability to help us continue timebanking in the West Wight, building a stronger community through sharing our skills with each other.”

In particular, the money has allowed the group to hold a Family Drop and Swap at Freshwater Family Centre, every Monday during term time. More than 220 parent/carers and children have used this weekly time bank resource and 12 clothing parcels have been made up to support children going into foster care, the women’s refuge and Homestart in Newport.

The grant has also helped the time bank run a Food Redistribution Project, to cut down local food waste. This is a new project in partnership with Sainsbury’s Local, in Freshwater, who have agreed to give the time bank their unsold, in date, bakery products every day, to redistribute to people and groups in the community.  A bicycle was funded through the WightAID grant to help deliver the bread around the West Wight.

The grant has also made it possible to purchase new garden equipment for the allotment. A bumper crop of runner beans, dwarf beans, tomatoes, lettuce, spinach and pumpkins has been growing nicely, with 81 small packages of produce being given out to members of the community.

Time bank members have volunteered for community events, gardening, DIY jobs, giving lifts, cat/dog sitting, IT help, cooking, craft work, washing and ironing, visiting and providing a walking companion, to name a few.

Waterside Pool

“We were elated when we had heard our WightAID application had been successful. It will provide us with equipment we were unable to afford, allowing us to deliver lifesaving skills to young children, who will hopefully go on to become lifeguards across the Island and further afield. The application process, unlike other funding sources, was very clear and straightforward and the team were very supportive and helpful over the phone. Thank you again.” — Waterside Pool, which received a grant towards its beach rookie course.

Pat a Happy Pony

Pat a Happy Pony was one of the first beneficiaries to receive a grant through WightAID’s simple application process for funding of £500 and under.

This wonderful project was granted £300, which covered the costs of harnesses and sensory equipment. This will enable them to continue going in to care/nursing homes, schools, respite centres to provide therapy through time with the ponies. The group also goes into people’s own homes to visit those who have life-changing disabilities and are housebound.


Wave Project

A £5,000 grant was donated to Island charity The Wave Project, which has been in operation on the IW since 2015.

Evidence suggests surf therapy helps young people feel less anxious and builds resilience. Through beach school projects, The Wave Project also helps its young participants to feel more engaged in education. Partner organisations and a group of dedicated volunteers help change lives — and funding from WightAID has made this even more possible.

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