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Just 3 years after it was established, the WightAID Foundation has succeeded in smashing the quarter of a million pounds barrier in grants to community and charity groups on the Isle of Wight – thanks to the support of Island businesses.

The WightAID Foundation, which marked its third birthday with an afternoon tea event at Caffé Isola last week, was founded in 2017 by IFPL Chief Exec Geoff Underwood, to support businesses wanting to contribute to local community groups, charities and voluntary organisations that work to improve the lives of Island people.

With a thriving voluntary sector with over 1,500 separate groups operating on the Island, many businesses were being inundated with requests for support and found it difficult to decide who should benefit.  Similarly, for those in the voluntary sector, smaller groups sometimes found themselves disadvantaged by bigger, well-known causes with the manpower and resources to more easily fundraise.

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The WightAID Foundation has been able to help provide an easy system for distributing funds, quickly, fairly and evenly across the Island making it easier for both businesses and charities.

To date, around 100 individual Island charities have benefited from support totalling £294,000 with projects focusing on social and community needs, education and training.

Geoff Underwood said:

“We’re thrilled to have been able to work with so many businesses and charities to enable them to make such a difference in our local community.

“The fact that this money is from the Island and going to the Island is incredibly important to me and to the trustees who helped me set up the foundation and the fact that we can turn around grants so quickly each month, means the money gets to work faster, delivering more immediate results.

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“What we need now is for more businesses to get involved.  I’d like to challenge local businesses to see how quickly, by working together, we can give £1 million pounds to our local community and see what kind of difference that can make.”

Over 30 businesses both large and small have already signed up as business partners to channel their donations through the foundation.  The foundation also has minimal overheads, as all the donated monies go directly to community causes. It therefore also relies on the support of business buddies who provide services free of charge to the foundation such as printing photography, marketing and PR services.

Illya SImpson, one of WightAID’s business partners from Clear Advice Mortgage Services said:

“As a local business it made absolute sense to me to get involved with the Wightaid foundation.  I’m passionate about being able to contribute to our local community but felt unable to choose between different community causes.  This way, I know a wide range of people will be able to benefit and all our donations are going directly to them.  Plus, we’re not having to tie up people within the organisation to make those decisions or administer those funds.  I would definitely encourage more businesses to get involved, it doesn’t matter whether you have £100 or £10,000 – there’s no minimum amount to taking part.”

Anne Axford, Chair of the Isle of Wight Association of Spina Bifida and Hydrocephalus (IWASBAH) said:

“As a charity we have benefited from the support of local businesses through WightAid and this summer we were able to take 50+ people to Tapnell Farm as part of our 50th Anniversary celebrations.  For many families, looking after a loved one with Spina Bifida can be very isolating, the funding for this event helped us to bring people together so they could meet others and enjoy a fantastic day out, for which we are extremely grateful.”

Anyone interested in getting involved with the WightAID Foundation can call 01983 555915 or email [email protected].

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