ONE of the Isle of Wight’s best-kept charity secrets is stepping up efforts to raise its public profile.
The Isle of Wight Community Fund (IWCF) — which is six years old — has now grown its fund, which generates cash to distribute, to more than £1 million.
It has made grants totalling £700,000 to 170 organisations, estimating its work has touched the lives of 45,000 people on the Island.
Fund chairman, Island-born John Barwick, was awarded the MBE in recognition of two decades of charity work.
He resigned from Coutts Bank in the City in 2011, after a working lifetime, in protest at the 'increasing immorality’ of the industry.
He said: "IWCF now has a fund that is 13 per cent of the total Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation endowment.
"The Island’s population is 140,000 compared with Hampshire’s 1.65 million, so it is punching well above its weight."
At the core of the fund are volunteers who now include former fundraising manager for the Earl Mountbatten Hospice Karen Eeles. It has just appointed financial consultant Ian Jenkins, the chairman of Ryde’s Waterside Pool Community Trust.
Its president is the Island’s Lord Lieutenant Maj Gen Martin White and it has the support of Island MP Andrew Turner.
"But, despite the fact we have supported many projects and organisations and have the support of so many prominent individuals and businesses, we don’t think the message we are here has got out to the wider Island," said Mr Barwick.
Last year, creation of apprenticeships for young people and a small loans scheme for businesses unable to get bank finance were supported. This year, there will be more apprenticeship aid and educational help for young people and support for the elderly too.
Government cash adds 50 per cent to individual and company donations, and there are tax incentives which further boost the amount.
Organisers are seeking ambassadors to spread the word.
• Potential donors can contact Ian Jenkins at email@example.com
or 07990 634427. Groups seeking grants can contact John Barwick at john@JohnBarwick.com
or 07536 044266.