Westgate Fund

The Westgate Fund is an opportunity for the Oxford business community to create a city that is about more than shopping. The fund brings together companies that want to make Oxford an inclusive, healthy and happy place where everyone thrives and no-one is left behind.

Grant Thornton’s 2018 Vibrant Economy Index shows that Oxford already ranks in the top 20 areas nationally in terms of dynamism and entrepreneurialism, and is the number one ranking place in terms of trust, belonging and cultural life. However, Oxford falls down when it comes to measures of equality and social inclusion, reflecting the levels of child poverty, a lack of affordable housing, and joblessness amongst disadvantaged people in the city. The PDF download below gives a full report of the social problems affecting the city of Oxford.

The Westgate Fund provides a charitable vehicle for businesses to give something back – in particular via financial support for local charities, as well as places for interesting and diverse things to happen, or time and talent shared with the community. The companies that support the Westgate Fund are based in the Westgate shopping centre and across the wider city, and are demonstrating that they are good neighbours through their philanthropic support.

Westgate Fund supporters

The Westgate Fund was established in 2017 with a £125,000 donation from John Lewis, and is held and managed by Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF). It has since been supported by Westgate landlords Landsec, and city centre law firm Royds Withy King. We are working closely with city charities, in particular Aspire and Homeless Oxfordshire.

In the video below, John Lewis Oxford Branch Manager Julie Blake explains why the company is working with OCF.

Case studies

Grants are made from the Westgate Fund via OCF’s Delivering Impact grant programme. Note that charities cannot apply directly to the Westgate Fund.

Some of the charities supported by the fund include:

  • My Life My Choice – a grant of £5,000 is helping a group of 15 young people with learning disabilities campaign for more paid work for people affected by special educational needs and autism. A project worker and film production team will support the young people to create their own lobbying project.
  • Youth Challenge Oxfordshire – the funding has contributed to YoCO’s volunteering and fundraising programme for young people from vulnerable and chaotic family backgrounds. Typically at risk of school drop-out and anti-social behaviour, the young people tend to have low aspirations until they take part in a volunteering project helping destitute families in Kenya.
  • Oxford Hub – funding is helping this volunteering centre to pilot targeted outreach to male Oxford University students, with the aim of increasing the number of male volunteers working in local primary schools, carrying out tutoring for children from deprived backgrounds.

For these organisations, the Westgate Fund was able to provide match funding for a grant from the Big Lottery/Home Office #iwill fund, which promotes social action amongst young people, such as volunteering, campaigning or fundraising. The Westgate Fund will award grants to organisations that are tackling the issues identified in the Oxford City research summary paper below.

Read more stories about the Westgate Fund

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  • “It is so uplifting to meet so many people blessed with generous hearts and a deep sense of community.”

    Ali Mosawi, one of OCF's donors
    Ali Mosawi
  • “I really appreciate your work on what for my parents is such an important project. I am glad that the fund has been developing so positively and swiftly.”

    David Evans, fundholder of the Maggie Evans Fund
    David Evans
    Maggie Evans Fund
  • “The huge satisfaction to be gained from spending one’s time in giving in your later years far outweighs any pleasures that you can possibly gain on the golf course, on the beach or on the back of the yacht in the Mediterranean sipping martinis.”

    Michael Oglesby, a UK businessman and philanthropist
    Mike Oglesby
  • “I like to have something worthwhile to get up for each morning… I find that the larger and more strategic the gift, the more pleasure I get out of it.”

    Dame Stephanie Shirley, a British businesswoman and philanthropist
    Dame Stephanie Shirley
  • “I can’t get over it; I’m still shaking when I talk about it. It’s just incredible… I feel a bit guilty about getting so much pleasure out of giving!”

    Terry Bramall, a UK businessman and philanthropist
    Terry Bramall
  • “Generosity is the best investment.”

    Diane Von Furstenberg, a fashion designer and philanthropist
    Diane von Fürstenberg
  • “Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.”

    Warren Buffet, an American business magnate, investor and philanthropist
    Warren Buffet
  • “It is more difficult to give money away intelligently than to earn it in the first place.”

    Andrew Carnegie, a 19th century Scottish American industrialist and philanthropist
    Andrew Carnegie
  • “I feel passionately that so many more people could be philanthropists and are a bit afraid of it. What we need to do as Beacon Fellows is go out there and talk about it. One of the things I want to do is to share the joy that I’ve had!”

    Marcelle Speller OBE
    Marcelle Speller OBE
    Beacon Fellow
  • “Every act of philanthropy touches a life. Deprivation is not destiny. If you come from a disadvantaged background, you just need to be given an

    Paul Marshall
    Paul Marshall
    Beacon Fellow
  • “It’s really important to tell the world about what you’re doing. You’ll be naturally quiet and modest, and it’s not very British, but it is very important, so put your modesty aside, tell the world what you’re doing, because they’ll be interested!”

    Paul Barry-Walsh
    Paul Barry-Walsh
    Beacon Fellow
  • “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”

    Winston Churchill
    Winston Churchill

Ark T Centre

The Ark T Centre is an arts project in East Oxford, and is situated in a high-risk area for Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Ark T is an open and inclusive community, where people, art, and powerful ideas come together, using the transformative powers of creativity to change lives.


SOFEA’s mission is to enable the transformation of people’s lives, and their communities, with a major focus on young people. They enable people to fulfil their potential through work, wellbeing, study and purpose projects, providing the means of reducing the immediate effects of disadvantage by relieving food insecurity in the wider community.

Good Food Oxford (GFO)

Good Food Oxford supports the existing work of many organisations in and around the city working to make our food system more nourishing, less wasteful and more sustainable.


Thrive offers activity clubs and mentoring for young people in two of Oxford’s most deprived areas – Blackbird Leys and Barton. Their clubs and activities are countering the effects of social exclusion.