Oxford City Council is awarding £35,000 in grants to community groups as part of a #WeAreOxford campaign, to help fund activities that keep connecting communities beyond the pandemic.
Sixteen organisations have been awarded funding as part of #WeAreOxford, a programme that aims to bring people from different backgrounds together, to form long-lasting friendships and strengthen cross-community networks.
The #WeAreOxford campaign launched at the start of 2020, but was put on hold by the pandemic just days before grants were due to be made. Originally the programme was launched as a way to bring people together after the divisions of Brexit; but people have pulled together through the pandemic in ways that couldn’t have been foreseen, and now the grants will help build on that community spirit as we come out of lockdown. The Council relaunched funding in January so that projects could begin as lockdown eased, and activities will be delivered in covid-safe ways.
Over 90 community groups applied for funding. Projects ranged from community quilting to tackle the separation between generations, training in music production for isolated and vulnerable women, to heritage storytelling for the Afro-Caribbean communities in Oxford.
Grant funding has been awarded to the following organisations:
- Women in Development Enterprise (WIDE) - Arts Quilting Community Building interfaith, intergenerational project
- Oxfordshire Chinese Community & Advice Centre (OCCAC) – Chinese arts and music activities to create links between Mandarin, Cantonese and Hakka speakers and non-Chinese members of the community
- Oxford Preservation Trust – Rose Hill heritage trail project for Oxford Open Doors
- Donnington Tenants & Residents Association (DTRA) – Digital Donnington project to connect older, isolated members of the community online
- Cowley Inner Youth Association (CIYA) – Zoom Active Club fitness for vulnerable residents with chronic fibromyalgia and other health related conditions
- Restore - build cross-community understanding and friendship between LGBTQIA+ and non-LGBTQIA+ members of the community
- St Aldate's Church – therapeutic cultural storytelling project for refugees and asylum seekers
- The Story Museum –story sharing for refugee children and local families
- Pink Times / LGBTIQ+ Oxfordshire – online listing for support and services for LGBTQIA+ communities
- Arts at the Old Fire Station – visual arts workshops to bring together people with experience of homelessness and wider Oxford community in shared projects
- Young Women's Music Project - training in music production for isolated and vulnerable women
- Syrian Sisters – tackling loneliness and isolation through events sharing cultures and food
- GLAM (Gardens, Libraries and Museums) University of Oxford – Reconnect project to support social prescribing that tackles loneliness and isolation in older age groups
- Kuumba Nia Arts (on behalf of Oxford Windrush Group) – story gathering for an educational cultural project connecting African-Caribbean communities with each other and wider communities in Oxford
- Tandem Collective – intercultural music sessions to connect communities in Rose Hill
- Makespace - Create a community hub in city centre
A report from the Together coalition this month showed that people feel the public responded to the pandemic by strengthening community connections, and an overwhelming majority want to keep the benefits of closer communities and build on them. The #WeAreOxford funding from the Council aims to do just that, by funding cross-community activity that goes beyond crisis response.
“I’m proud that we’re able to support these activities and begin to focus on the future we want to build together in Oxford. We have seen incredible responses from the community, with thousands of people volunteering, new support groups emerging, and an emphasis not just on essential needs but on creativity and making connections as well.
“Building on the community spirit we have seen in lockdown is so important for our recovery from the pandemic. The range of activities and groups applying for this funding shows how important cultural and communal activities are. I hope that the activities that we’re funding today will help everyone in the city feel they are part of #WeAreOxford.”
Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities