Each year millions of pounds are raised for Children in Need, the BBC’s national charity. But where does the money go? Dan Robinson speaks to three Oxfordshire organisations set to get more than £150,000 and investigates why the county receives less than some other areas.
THERE are often concerns that Oxfordshire’s reputation as an affluent county sees it get a smaller share of cash, such as NHS funding. The BBC Children in Need charity says there are not enough applications from the county – all three groups that applied in 2013 got cash – but adds that it does prioritise areas where poverty is more visible.
South and west regional manager Clare Cannock says: “We have a very detailed process in place to ensure that our grants are targeted on areas of real need.
“Thankfully Oxfordshire doesn’t suffer too badly in comparison to other places and the levels of deprivation aren’t too high.
“We work hard to ensure that the portfolio is varied and balanced, that all regions are represented and all areas of need are addressed, and we always welcome more applications for Oxfordshire-based projects.”
- Project leader Joey Phillips
Charities Yellow Submarine, the Guideposts Trust and Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground got a total £150,000 of the £43m raised in November 2012.
About 400 charities in the south west, in which Children in Need includes Oxfordshire, applied for funding and 133 were successful.
Grants are often awarded on a long-term basis and there are currently 17 projects in the county using £780,000 worth of funding.
Funds are given on an applicaiton basis rather than each county getting a set amount. Applications are assessed by a county volunteer committee made up of people who know the area and issues affecting young people in it.
- Children in Need south and west regional head Clare Cannock
Members, who have often worked with young people in the NHS or children’s services, weigh up the quality of the organisation and disadvantages of the youngsters who will benefit. Once charities have been shortlisted, Children in Need decides which projects can be funded and how much they will receive.
Mrs Cannock said: “The hardest part is what we can actually fund.
“We look at the portfolio we have and try to make sure we have a breadth of projects across the area.
“It’s very high competition. To stand out against others they need strong applications. The ones we chose really stood out in terms of identifying the disadvantages of the young people and the delivery.
“They are very different in terms of size and scale but for each one, the important thing for us was the outcome for these people.”
- Members of Yellow Submarine met Oxford United mascot Olly the Ox on a recent visit to the Kassam Stadium
Mrs Cannock said the Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground project – which got £5,000 – stood out because it targets young people.
She says: “It’s about providing special equipment to work with them for regular after-school sessions.
“It’s a very well-respected organisation.
“The grant is very small but it’s a very strong outcome that’s helped the wealth and wellbeing of young people.”
Larger grants were awarded to Yellow Submarine and the Guideposts Trust, which helps youngsters with learning difficulties explore the outdoors. Speaking about the latter, which got £87,670, she said: “The committee felt it was about taking children with learning difficulties outdoors and into environments where they might not go, like forests and the wilderness.
“There was very good safeguarding with them and they were great at showing how they would improve the social skills of the young people by doing these activities.”
Mrs Cannock said Yellow Submarine, which got £65,263 and provides trips for youngsters with learning disabilities, helped the children to make friends and have fun.
She said: “Quite often children with physical disabilities have a lot of barriers and can’t go out with friends.
“If they want to go to the theatre or take part in sports, often there’s a lot of things stopping them but this project made a difference by breaking down those barriers and increasing their self-confidence.”
PLAYGROUND IS FOR SOME SERIOUS FUN
NEW equipment and play sessions will be provided for the Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground after it received a £5,000 grant.
The after-school and holiday club – which has also received Gannett Grant funding from the Oxford’s Mail’s American parent company – has enough space to offer up to 80 children aged eight to 13 activities supervised by volunteers and paid staff. It includes a zip wire, swings and climbing frames outside, as well as indoor facilities for cooking, art work and games.
The funding will help to buy a video camera for a film and art project and for materials to launch a gardening project.
Manager Joey Phillips said: “It’s for kids to come and enjoy themselves. A lot of the parents in the estate can’t afford holidays, so a play scheme is the closest they will ever get to a holiday.
“It offers them a space to play and a safe environment – it’s a nice place to develop their social skills and learn how to interact with other people.
“They come here and learn to conduct themselves but it also helps to bring out their character. Within the grounds they are free to run around.
“Most parents would like to know their child is safe and not going to run off somewhere.
“The money will help to buy some equipment.
“We say it’s an adventure playground but if you keep coming into the same thing everyday then it’s not much of an adventure.”
CREATING 'FOREST SCHOOLS'
THE Guideposts Trust wants to get young people with learning difficulties and behavioural problems working outdoors by creating “forest schools”, where yongsters enjoy activites in woodlands.
The projects are expected to start in the next six to nine months and will benefit about 300 county children.
- Woodland activities
The organisation, which has bases in Witney, Abingdon, Wheatley, Banbury and Sonning Common, received £87,670 that will help it roll out a three-year programme in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Northamptonshire.
Area service manager Trudi Daurie said the project helps to develop skills and confidence.
She says: “It’s a different spin on the ethos of going outside because today children don’t have the chance to go outside. This will make a difference to people because they don’t always get a chance to mix.
“It’s an opportunity to work together outside in a new environment and build friendship, while gaining experience of working in the natural world.
“They can build shelters and fires and use tools and equipment.”
Activities will include cooking, writing children’s names on pieces of wood, safety lessons, games like finding objects on trees and making necklaces made of flowers and fabrics.
Mrs Daurie says there can be a culture of “panic” among parents when it comes to letting their children go on such trips but said skills learned are essential.
She said: “We plan a programme tailored to individual needs and it’s an opportunity for them to develop all the life skills they need.
“We want parents to be involved by coming into the woods to see what their kids are doing.”
HOW TO QUALIFY
What Children in Need looks for in applicants:
- CHARITIES or not-for-profit organisations that are focused on helping children and young people aged under 18.
They must show how they address disadvantages, including disabilities, poverty, mental health issues or victims of violence or neglect.
Organisations should provide evidence on how they protect youngsters in their care and help them develop.
Young people’s views should have been taken into account when planning projects or should have been involved in running them.
Grants are not awarded for building projects applying for more than £20,000, religious projects, trips abroad, medical treatment or research, general appeals or for work that statutory bodies have a duty to fund.
The main grants scheme is for projects over £10,000 and the application deadline is May 15.