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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  • “Modern teenagers need a voice and to feel that they are really being heard. This in turn will help nurture and shape an empathetic and compassionate society which we will all benefit from.”

    Anne-Marie Cockburn
    Anne Marie Cockburn
    What Martha Did Next
  • “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
    Coutts Million Pound Donor Report
  • “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
    Coutts Million Pound Donor Report
  • “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
    Coutts Million Pound Donor Report
  • “Generosity is the best investment.”

    Diane Von Furstenberg, a fashion designer and philanthropist
    Diane von Fürstenberg
    Fashion designer
  • “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 would never have known about many of the causes I’ve helped if the community foundation hadn’t told me about them. They are doing vital work and they need our support.”

    Jane Mactaggart
    Jane Mactaggart
  • “I am incredibly grateful to be part of OCF. The phenomenal support we’ve had has meant we can keep going; reach more vulnerable and distressed people and pay for our magical herd of horses.”

    Jo Corfield of Hopethruhorses
    Jo Corfield
    Founder, Hopethruhorses
  • “Prosperity requires not just investment in economic capital, but also in social capital. Community foundations are playing a critical role in helping to deliver a more inclusive capitalism.”

    Mark Carney, Bank of England Governor
    Mark Carney
    Governor of the Bank of England

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 alleviates multiple social problems: the need for jobs and training for disadvantaged young people; the demand for nutritious food for vulnerable people; and the danger of supplies from the food industry going to waste.

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.