When Geoff Underwood, the chief executive of Shalfleet-based IFPL, came up with the idea of forming WightAID, it is doubtful whether even he imagined the charity project would prove so successful.

The WightAID concept supports businesses wanting to contribute to local community groups, charities and voluntary organisations that work to improve the lives of Island people.

With over 1,500 separate groups operating on the Island, many businesses 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.

So WightAID was born just over three years ago to streamline the whole operation, with the Foundation Trustees meeting at regular intervals to see where and how best donations can be distributed. 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, the current IW High Sheriff, 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.

“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 have already signed up as 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.

Anyone interested in getting involved with the WightAID Foundation should contact (01983) 555915 or email admin@wightaid.org.

Colin Clarke
Author: Colin Clarke