OCF continues to support the local community into 2021 with two COVID-19 grants rounds. The first focused on tackling the causes of homelessness or supporting move-on housing and the second on the recovery of young families from the consequences of the pandemic. Grants, totalling over £268,000, were made from our Community Resilience Fund, set up in April 2020. 

A full list of all the groups supported by this round of grants is given below.

Those people sleeping rough were brought into emergency accommodation during lockdown, as this provision came to an end OCF was keen to support work that prevented a return to the streets. The pandemic has also affected children and families – primarily in mental health, income and education – OCF wanted to fund projects to help children and families out of these adverse consequences.

OCF sought applications from organisations that provided a demonstrable contribution towards tackling the causes of homelessness or supporting move-on housing. The majority of people become homeless because they are unable to afford private rent, have not obtained state benefits to which they are entitled or are not eligible to receive state benefits to cover rent payments (no recourse to public funds). Certain groups of people, such as ex-offenders, ex-armed forces, those with substance or alcohol abuse/recovery and immigrants with an unresolved immigration status, are more likely to become homeless. Becoming homeless is often triggered by a traumatic event such as a relationship/family breakdown, becoming unemployed or serious illness.

COVID-19 caused much anxiety in the population, which has had a detrimental effect on mental health. The measures taken to combat the virus, including lockdowns and self-isolation, have caused many people to become disconnected from society and to experience loneliness. OCF wanted to fund projects supporting the wellbeing of young families, those whose financial wellbeing has deteriorated still further due to the pandemic, and those whose schooling and access to education was more severely disrupted.

Aldates Community Transformation (ACT) have the privilege of seeing transformation happen time after time because of their commitment to people through their setbacks. One example is E, who they met in prison, supported on release and kept in touch with after he reoffended. On his second release they met him at the gate, housed and helped him overcome his 20-year addiction. He now lives with his long-term partner and runs a business. E writes: “You all have played a big part in guiding me to the man that I am becoming and I would really like to give back and teach someone a skill/trade to be self-sufficient.”

Bee Free Young Carers say this funding will have a hugely positive effect on young carers, on their mental health and overall wellbeing, as well as supporting how they interact with their family, peers at school, and their behaviour in the classroom. They will feel noticed and doing ‘normal’ activities, such as going to a theme park, will help them feel like they fit in with society and their friends. Their befriending service will provide an opportunity to confide in an adult that isn’t part of their school network or family. Young carers often do not do well at school, due to their additional caring hours, and the laptops will help them to be more engaged in school work and also less isolated as they will be able to keep in touch with family members and friends.

Read about our response to COVID-19 from the start of the pandemic until April 2021 in our new Journal of a Pandemic Year

List of grants made in OCF’s COVID_19 grants rounds for Housing and Homelessness and Recovery for Children and Families:
Group funded
Their aim
Amount awarded
Number of beneficiaries
Project name
Project funded
Aldates Community Transformation Initiatives
Provides relief to people in need in Oxford, in particular those who are homeless and ex-offenders.
 £        20,000
The Keys Project
Supporting their integrated housing work, including outreach, and mentoring to help residents ultimately become tenant-ready and able to move on successfully.
Supporting vulnerable and marginalised people to address their unique housing and employment needs.
 £        15,000
From housing to homes
One year property management and letting pilot on behalf of private landlords, includes an assurance fund, property maintenance and personalised decorating, plus resident support. 
Blackbird Leys Neighbourhood Support Scheme Ltd
An independent community advice centre, based in Blackbird Leys
 £        10,000
Advice to reduce poverty and prevent homelessness in Blackbird Leys
To continue to deliver and develop their vital advice service to residents in Blackbird Leys and the surrounding areas in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis and subsequent economic fallout.
Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South and Vale
Free, confidential, and impartial advice on a wide range of issues such as housing, benefits, debt and employment issues.
 £          7,500
Helping our clients to stay in their homes
To increase and strengthen support to local people at risk of eviction, homelessness or serious debt caused by housing costs and the impact of Coronavirus.
Connection Support, Aspire and Asylum Welcome
Support people who are homeless, at risk of homelessness, vulnerable or isolated.
 £        50,000
Supporting individuals with No Recourse to Public Funds in Oxfordshire
Provide complementary services to deliver sustainable accommodation solutions, wraparound support, and immigration advice for individuals who face homelessness as the government’s Everyone In initiative ends.
Edge Housing – Oxford Community Church
Provides move on accommodation and support to people who have been rough sleeping or are vulnerably housed.
 £        12,000
Edge Housing Homeless Support
Covering the cost of support workers to integrate their clients into the community, preventing them from returning to homelessness and refurbish a new woman only house.
Helps people out of homelessness for good.
 £        15,000
Addressing the root causes of homelessness
Specialised and personalised support, alongside meaningful work experience to manage mental health and affect lasting positive change for their clients.
A community drop-in centre for adults who are homeless, vulnerably housed, on low income and/or looking for company and community.
 £        12,000
Bespoke one-to-one support
To respond to increasing levels of demand and allow effective signposting to other services and activities including professional health support.
Sanctuary Hosting
Provides short-term accommodation to homeless refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants.
 £        12,000
Sanctuary Hosting Oxfordshire service
For operating costs, including staff costs, subsistence payments to guests, bus passes, digital devices, hygiene and wellbeing kits and volunteer support worker expenses.
Abingdon Bridge
Supports vulnerable young people aged 13-25 who find themselves in challenging circumstances.
 £          9,880
Resilient Minds Programme
Build on tried and tested earlier interventions and increase capacity for those who most need support, preventing escalation of problems.
ARCH (Assisted Reading for Children in Oxfordshire)
Imparts a love of reading to disadvantaged children in Oxfordshire.
 £          8,000
New Volunteer Recruitment
Covering the costs of recruiting, training, resourcing and one year of support for 47 new volunteers.
Autism Family Support Oxfordshire
To nurture, enable, and inspire autistic children and young people and their families.
 £          8,000
Autism Together  
For monthly meetings for parents whose child has recently been diagnosed with autism, weekly youth groups, peer, and parent support groups, and to deliver autism awareness training into other local support organisations.
BeFree Young Carers
Provides comprehensive support service for young carers.
 £        10,000
Building back brighter
To manage their befriending service, giving one-to-one support for young carers, provide a diverse range of respite activities, and laptops for young carers starting secondary school in September.
Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground
Runs after school and holiday activities for 8-13yr olds in Blackbird Leys.
 £          7,530
Trips out of area for children and families
Take 40 children on a trip to a theme park, to give them some feeling of equality and provide a safe place and a meal where children can grow and develop during half term. Plus, staff training to support and deal with parents.
Cutteslowe Community Association
Provides activities relevant to local needs which foster social inclusion, community cohesion, confidence and resilience.
 £          5,000
Under-5s provision in Cutteslowe, Sunnymead and Wolvercote
To continue providing free, open access, universal services to local families with under 5s, with an emphasis on learning through play to prepare the children for school.
Donnington Doorstep Family Centre
An independent, community-based family centre delivering a range of universal and specialist services.
 £          8,000
Early Years – Stay and Play and Family Support
During the pandemic they have redefined their offer of play, learning and support to the community, developing an online presence, virtual support and face to face services.
Fusion Oxford Community Arts Agency
Devises and delivers high quality creative projects in the community and operates two large workshop spaces.
 £          3,722
Write On!
Extend their Creative Writing project to 6 weeks, provide mentor support after the project and publish the final work. Also commission an artist to create a mural featuring words from the writing.
Home-Start Banbury and Chipping Norton
Home-visiting service committed to promoting the welfare of families with at least one child under the age of 5 years.
 £          3,000
1:1 Family Support and Group Work
Support core costs to deliver their 1:1 home-visiting service and increase their group work with families – both online and in-person.
Improve the confidence and language skills of children with English as an additional language through a free tuition scheme.
 £          5,000
Jacari tuition programme
Core costs to provide free tuition to over 100 children with EAL from September 2021, including piloting an online platform for volunteers and children to use in their lessons and sending  every pupil a welcoming first lesson pack in the post.
Leys CDI
To develop and co-ordinate projects of long-term benefit to the Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys estates in Oxford.
 £        10,000
Leys CDI Homework Club
For costs of a youth worker and A level students, laptops, and equipment for a new Homework Club to take place as part of the Friday After School Club.
Oxford Parent Infant Project (OXPIP)
Specialises in the field of parent-infant psychotherapy and family support.
 £          8,500
Referrals Co-ordinator
For a dedicated Parent-Infant Therapist Referrals Co-ordinator to assess and manage the processing of referrals, including undertaking mental health risk assessments and offering interim therapeutic sessions. This will allow the families to have the initial support they need sooner.
Oxfordshire Play Association
To improve lives through play.
 £          4,885
Oxford Therapeutic Playwork
To deliver therapeutic playwork sessions to children referred by their school, complementing the work of schools and mental health services by providing early intervention support to children within their local community.
To help narrow the gap in attainment by supporting parents to make the most of everyday learning opportunities at home and in the community.
 £          5,000
Peep Antenatal Project
The project allows parents to recognise that their babies have their own thoughts, intentions, and feelings and to understand how these influence their behaviour, contributing to the development of secure attachments between parents/carers and baby.
Quest for Learning
To transform the futures of disadvantaged children by inspiring them to engage with learning and improving their core English and maths skills.
 £          9,244
Literacy catch-up programme
Extend their capacity as part of the National Tutoring Programme to offer their catch-up programmes to more schools, extending the role of Teaching Coordinator and training new tutors.
Refugee Resource
Provide psychological, social and practical support for refugees, asylum seekers and vulnerable migrants.
 £          5,000
Family therapy sessions
To explore the benefits of and offer family therapy sessions to help resolve more complex, systemic issues, particularly for clients who have experienced shared trauma.
The Maple Tree
To help children to have the best start in life and to help parents to be emotionally resilient, informed, and confident.
 £          4,124
Summer programme
To run a full and focused school summer holiday programme, including sessions for babies, child socialisation groups, outreach, walking activities, a family Saturday activity and 1-1 sessions.