In July 2023, The Cost of Living Fund awarded £263,528 in its second round of grants to 34 local charitable organisations. This round focused on continued support to help community organisations tackle the cost of living and building more resilience.
The cost-of-living crisis has meant that vulnerable families are increasingly unable to pay for basic standard of living costs such as food or heating. Children who are cold and hungry are disproportionately affected, with their physical and mental health at greater chance of declining along with the subsequent knock-on effects at school. When children and young people don’t receive the right support, their behaviour may escalate or they may stop trying to go to school. School exclusions disproportionally and consistently affect vulnerable and disadvantaged groups of children; a student who receives free school meals is four times more likely to be excluded from school.
Mental Health Natters CIC are using their £9,980 grant from OCF to develop specialised support of vulnerable children and young people in Abingdon who in many cases have missed years of school, have no friendship groups and are also likely to have undiagnosed special educational needs. They will offer consistent morning and afternoon 121 sessions, developing positive relationships with both the young people and their parents and carers. Their expert practitioner helps young people therapeutically, restoring their self-belief and trust, so that they can gradually implement a return to class.
The Living Room is a day centre where people experiencing homelessness in Oxford receive hospitality and compassion. Facilities include a hot shower, the ability to wash clothes, use of laptops and supportive company. Since its inception in 2021 the Living Room has served 70 rough sleepers and vulnerable people, of which 46 have subsequently been housed. Many of these guests are coming in to have support with things like combatting loneliness, receiving help with life administration like bills and forms, and having food if they are short on money. As the cost of living increases, there has been a higher demand for this service, with more and more people struggling to make ends meet. A grant of £4,023 from OCF is being used to continue to provide a safe space for everyone who needs it.
The Parasol Project supports disabled and disadvantaged children and young people experiencing, or at risk of, social exclusion. They run a children’s holiday play scheme in Northway with activities such as bushcraft, arts & crafts, sports, sensory play and fancy dress. These activities give children the opportunity to develop through free play. The Parasol Project also runs a teenage activity programme where teenagers can get involved in activities like film making, cooking sessions and canoeing and kayaking. These inclusive activities have huge benefits for disabled and non-disabled children and young people – new friendships are formed, social skills are developed and a level of sensitivity and awareness surrounding disability is established. The charity is using their grant of £7,608 to upgrade their kitchen to ensure they can continue to effectively support the children that visit them.
These grants were funded by OCF and a further £100,000 from Oxfordshire County Council, as well as a pool of other generous local trusts, businesses, Oxford colleges and members of the public, notably:
- The John Laing Charitable Trust
- The Ian Mactaggart Trust
- UK Community Foundations
- Recent donors to OCF’s Collective Business Fund (Mills & Reeve, Oxford PharmaGenesis and Wise Funds)
- The Bristol & West ‘97 Endowment Fund (via Quartet Community Foundation)
- The Barnsbury Charitable Trust
- The Brethertons Community Fund
- Exeter College
- New College
See the full list of grants awarded.
We are so pleased that we were able to help these charities, however there were many other charities with equally compelling projects that we were unable to offer grants to as we simply don’t have enough funds. The need continues to be great and we would love to be able to fund all of the brilliant applications we received. This is why we are still seeking support for the fund to enable us to reach even more people and help to transform their lives.