At the end-of-festival celebration dinner on Monday, Jayne paid tribute to some of the local women working with OCF to alleviate the suffering of others, from helping the children of prisoners, to promoting restorative justice, to addressing mental health issues.
Last week’s Oxford International Women’s Festival focused on women’s achievements and solidarity, highlighting local, national and international issues around the theme of ‘Women Thinking Big in the Arts, Science, Politics and Education’. The annual festival is organised by local women to reflect a wide range of backgrounds and experiences, and the end-of-festival celebration dinner on Monday was no exception, with rangoli to mark the Indian spring festival Holi, a tabla recital, and speakers on the Suffragette movement in India and women in medicine.
OCF’s Chief Executive Jayne Woodley gave a talk that highlighted the work of three inspiring women in local philanthropy. Speaking about Sarah Burrows of Children Heard and Seen, she said: “Of all women in prison, 60% have children; a prison sentence separates 17,000 children a year from their mothers. Tonight there will be several children in neighbourhoods across Oxfordshire whose parents are in prison. Without intervention, 65% of boys with a parent in prison will end up in prison themselves. Maintaining family relationships, if possible, is an important factor in preventing re-offending rates. Sarah established Children Heard and Seen nearly two years ago and OCF is delighted to have been able to support their work.”
Jayne went on to commend Anne-Marie Cockburn, her guest at the dinner, who set up a fund with OCF in memory of her daughter Martha. Martha died in 2013 aged 15 after swallowing half a gram of MDMA powder. Anne-Marie has since campaigned for the legalisation and regulation of all drugs, and is working with The Forgiveness Project to share her story and forgive the young man who sold the fatal powder to her daughter. Jayne said: “I can’t imagine how much courage and compassion this must take – but what I do know is that projects like this provide prisoners with a unique opportunity to address the harm they have caused, as well as exploring the relationship between themselves as victims and the victims of their crimes.”
Finally, Jayne paid tribute to Jane Mactaggart, who has chosen OCF to help her identify small local community organisations working to support those suffering from mental health problems or abuse such as domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape: “Over the past 12 years her generosity has enabled the foundation to award more than 100 grants, and most recently these have included Oxford Against Cutting and Host Oxford – two organisations both working very locally and across diverse communities to bring about real change for women.”