'Joining forces could strengthen Oxfordshire charities’

Jayne Woodley, left, and Annette Ahern, from Oxfordshire Community Foundation               Picture: OX66829 Antony Moore

Jayne Woodley, left, and Annette Ahern, from Oxfordshire Community Foundation Picture: OX66829 Antony Moore Buy this photo

First published in News Banbury Cake: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Witney and West Oxfordshire. Call me on 01865 425483

THERE are too many charities in Oxfordshire, according to the Oxfordshire Community Foundation’s (OCF) chief executive Jayne Woodley.

The Charity Commission says there are more than 3,000 registered charities in the county, but Ms Woodley believes many of them are trying to do the same thing.

She said: “That’s far too many charities, it’s ridiculous.

“Our idea is not to keep setting up new charities, but to help distribute the money for projects.

“Charities need to have an audit and board of trustees, which takes time and has costs attached to it. When you are trying to reduce costs in the sector, it’s not efficient.”

The OCF has helped all types of non-profit organisations to get almost £4m in funding, from bodies including the Government and Comic Relief.

It has also awarded 1,300 grants between £500 and £5,000 itself – but has now launched a Future Building Fund to offer the largest grants it has ever provided.

About £450,000 has been raised in donations from a small group of people and applications for the fund open tomorrow.

Registered charities with an income of up to £400,000 per year can apply for between £10,000 and £75,000 to develop strategy. A grants panel will decide which organisations will receive the money.

Funding could be used to cut down on their overheads and work more efficiently.

Ms Woodley said there are different organisations that tackle homelessness that she believes could work together.

The Crisis Skylight centre, at the Old Fire Station in George Street, provides learning courses and programmes helping people to find jobs, while the Porch Steppin’ Stones offers food, laundry services and shower facilities. Oxford Homeless Pathways and Simon House in Paradise Street provide hostel accommodation.

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Ms Woodley said: “We want to encourage groups to understand that they might only be part of the solution and might be solving more problems if they worked together.”

One of the principles underlining the funding is that a broad range of issues are covered and a real need is identified.

Ms Woodley said: “We would like to see charities pool their resources.

“We encourage groups to collaborate where possible. So if there’s a group doing similar things then perhaps they could work together.

“They might be looking at a problem in different ways.

“For example, some groups offer beds for homeless people, whereas others just provide food and washing facilities. We want to see projects with the best ideas to use the money in the most effective way.

“We could all do with extra money and employ an extra person, but what is that person going to do?”

The OCF was launched in 1995 and is based in Woodins Way, Oxford.

HOW TO APPLY

  • THE Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) considers the organisation of the charity, purpose of the project and financial details
  • Applicants should address these issues and demonstrate how it would use the money to deliver a service helping an identified need.

Applications open tomorrow and can be made by visiting oxfordshire.org

PARTNERSHIPS ALREADY PAYING DIVIDENDS

THE Jubilee Legacy Fund was set up two years ago with the aim of helping charities and groups in East Oxford, celebrating the Queen’s diamond jubilee.

Founder Imam Monawar Hussain, pictured below, who has lived in Cowley for 25 years, is working with the OCF and says he wanted to help elderly people, ex-offenders, asylum seekers, youngsters, homeless people and those with mental health issues.

He wants to get people from different cultural backgrounds working together and said: “We want people talking to each other and developing a strategy that makes a difference locally.

“What tends to happen is in a difficult economic environment resources are scarce, so this is a way of building relationships within East Oxford.

“Sometimes charities don’t work together so we want to encourage partnerships that work across cultures to deliver services.”

Banbury Cake:

Mr Hussain, 44, a deputy lieutenant of Oxfordshire who also founded the Oxford Foundation to help vulnerable youngsters through education, has raised up to £12,000 for the fund through donations by businesses and individuals. He has donated £1,500 himself.

He said: “East Oxford is the most diverse place in the city. I come from a Muslim community, which is a generous community, but a lot of the money goes abroad because that’s where people see the greatest need.

“While that is great, it would be great if a small percentage of that money is used to help local groups.

“We have a lot of people who are homeless, ill or lonely.”

Mr Hussain said he wants to get mosques working with homeless projects, including the Porch Steppin’ Stone Centre which has been pledged funding.

He said: “We want to use some of the volunteers with the mosques to raise money for the centre and help out there. We want to get a joined-up approach to meet the needs of the homeless.”

 

Unravelling fantasy from reality

IN January, the Abingdon-based Drayton, Appleford, Milton, Sutton Courtenay and Steventon (DAMASCUS) Youth Project was given a £3,000 grant by the OCF, alongside £2,500 from Oxfordshire County Council.

The money is being spent on a Fantasy vs Reality project, which deals with the issue of young people accessing pornography and sexually explicit information.

Sixteen to 19-year-olds are taught about the subject so they can hold workshops with younger age groups, passing on their knowledge and becoming role models.

Founding trustee Rita Atkinson said: “We’ve done this successfully on the issue of drugs and alcohol abuse in the past.

“We work with the older teenagers first and they look at what resonates with younger people in terms of making a difference.”

Banbury Cake:

  • DAMASCUS members Rita Atkinson, Ryan Frost, Gary Hibbins and Roxy Elford
    Picture: OX66838 Antony Moore

Mrs Atkinson said the idea for the current project arose after discussions with teenage girls, who said boys had high expectations in relationships after watching pornography.

She said: “There will be two courses lasting a year each.

“It isn’t about delivering a six-week workshop, it’s about embedding it in the culture of young people.”

The project works with other service providers, including Thames Valley Police’s community safety partnership, and encourages youngsters to make presentations to parish councils about their needs.

Ryan Frost, 16, from Sutton Courtenay, is one of the project’s young leaders. He said: “When we tell people about the issues they should be aware of, they listen better because they know us and we’re a similar age to them.

“The project has made me more self-confident and realise that some things I might have been tempted to do, like get into drinking or drugs, weren’t quite right.”

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