Published: Wednesday, 18 January 2023

Oxford’s communities benefitted from £478,500 funding from the council’s Community Impact Fund last year, despite the budget pressures on the council.

There is still time for groups to apply for the first round of Community Impact Fund grants for 2023, with applications open until 23 Jan. Medium grants of up to £5,000 and small grants up to £1000 are available for Oxford’s non-profit organisations.

In last year’s funding, the largest part of the Community Impact Fund grants was £338,000 given in three-year grants that help groups to deliver long-term projects. Every year £84,000 is also given in grants for projects that will be delivered in the same year.

Last year saw the council relaunch its community grants after the pandemic, and a one-off transition fund of £56,000 helped groups as they adjusted to new ways of working together with the council.

The council aims to support four priorities through the Community Impact Fund grants: support thriving communities; enable an inclusive economy; pursue a zero carbon Oxford; deliver more, affordable housing.

Three-year grants for Big Ideas

The three-year grants, known as Big Ideas grants, allocated £338,000  to support a wide range of organisations and projects across the city. These grants enable organisers to run long-term or repeat projects, whether it’s Oxford Pride securing Pride Month for the next three years, or Refugee Resource providing long-term support to refugees and asylum seekers in Oxford.

Groups that were given Big Ideas grants last year include established organisations like the Old Fire Station, family support from groups like Donnington Doorstep and Home Start Oxford, refugee groups including Refugee Resource and Sanctuary Hosting, and disability support groups like Parasol Project and My Life My Choice.

One of the groups awarded funding was Wood Farm Youth Project. The organisation ran weekly youth work sessions, including during the summer holidays, and staff and volunteers also engaged in outreach work on the Wood Farm estate. The sessions included arts and craft, group games, cooking and discussions prompted by issues raised by the young people.

Another organisation that received a grant was the Story Museum. One of its projects involved storytellers working in a partner school to help students tell their own post-Covid stories. When invited to share their work, one of the students gave a charismatic performance, ending with their own song.

It wasn’t until the teacher gave their feedback that the storytellers realised what a significant moment this was: “I actually could not believe what was happening. I have never heard her speak since September, and it’s now May. Not only did she volunteer to speak, she was confident and hilarious and the class were supportive of her and cheered as they couldn’t believe it either. It is astounding.”

Small and Medium grants

£84,000 is given each year in small and medium grants of up to £5000. The funding is split into three rounds of applications through the year and the final round of grants was allocated in December 2022.

These grants have already helped more than 70 groups across the city, with the last £16,000 of funding just arriving with groups now.

Beneficiaries include Damascus Rose Kitchen, a social enterprise set up by a Syrian refugee and former-social worker to help herself and other refugee women connect, develop their English and build more independence. Damascus Rose Kitchen uses the cooking and food of home to provide the women with a focus to develop other skills, and to share their food with others. It now provides a regular café menu at the Old Fire Station, as well as offering catering for events and parties.

Other grant awards were spread across a wide variety of projects and communities, including Windrush Commonwealth Service Oxford, Headington Community Association, Oxford Mutual Aid, Oxfordshire Asian Women's Voice, The Oxford Jewish Congregation and Oxfordshire Youth.

“Oxford’s community groups do amazing work to provide services, activities and celebrations throughout the year. Despite our own budget pressures, as a council we’re committed to supporting as many groups as we can, and I’m really proud that our grants programme has been able to help so many different groups and projects.”

Councillor Shaista Aziz, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Communities and Culture

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