People and places

Reading this article reminds me of the potential that we are hoping for in Banbury as more local people get involved to make it the first Age Friendly place in Oxfordshire.

Most definitely the best way to ensure places work for the local people who live there is to involve them whatever and whenever any changes are being considered. 

That's why we can't wait for the feedback and ideas to hear what local people believe would make Banbury a great place to grow older. 

Lately I’ve found myself imagining what the world might look like if the people who designed it – politicians, planners, developers and architects – were more diverse. I don’t believe that men and women design differently, or that poverty and ethnicity inform architecture, but lived experience is a great teacher. The regeneration projects of the past decade are more about planters and cappuccinos than access to free drinking water, public toilets, cheap groceries and a post office. They appear to solve only the first-world problems of the monocultural illuminati who created them.

What would our cities be like if mothers had more of a role in designing them? There would be ramps everywhere, for a start. Schlepping a pushchair around makes you think differently about stairs. I cried when my nearest station was revamped without the inclusion of a lift
Young people have the power to shape a better Oxfordshire

In my role as Director of Oxford Hub I’d like to share our experience of youth social action with other charities in Oxfordshire. I hope this can support #iwill fund grant applicants to learn more about how young people can make a difference in their communities!

In simple terms, youth social action is about 'practical action in the service of others'. It involves young people making a difference through volunteering, fundraising or campaigning. Social action has a double benefit - it delivers community impact and also benefits the young people who get involved through increasing wellbeing and developing their skills. 

Our flagship social action programme is Schools Plus, where university students tutor local school pupils to achieve their academic potential. This initiative was funded by the #iwill fund at Oxfordshire Community Foundation in 2017 and 2018. Over the last academic year, we placed 236 student volunteers in tutoring placements across 13 schools in Oxford City. Schools Plus follows the double benefit model of youth social action - local pupils improve their academic attainment in different subjects; while young volunteers develop new skills in team work, communication, tutoring and leadership. 

For youth social action to have impact, it needs to follow the six quality principles set out by the Step Up to Serve Campaign. Depending on the different social action activities, some of the principles may be more important than others. Schools Plus focuses on providing a progressive experience, where you can start by tutoring and increasingly take up more responsibility, coordinating other volunteers in your school, organising training for tutors or fundraising events. In order to make sure the project is making an impact, it needs to be reflective, so tutors need to reflect on what is working and what they can improve in their interactions with pupils. 

In 2017 we received #iwill funding to improve the principle of embeddedness, making opportunities accessible to all. In particular, our equal opportunities data highlighted that we were not reaching enough disabled volunteers. With the help from OCF, we carried out outreach work across the disability community, with existing disabled volunteers leading this work, in line with the youth-led principle. Following this successful outreach project, we are now using the #iwill fund to reach out to more male students, who are a minority of volunteers in Schools Plus. This can help us be more socially impactful, as we respond to community need by placing more male role models in schools. 

If you are interested in helping young people shape a better world, you will find lots of interesting resources and background information about youth social action in the #iwill Campaign website and you can apply for #iwill funding in Oxfordshire through OCF. 

The #iwill campaign promotes social action among 10-20 year-olds. This includes activities such as campaigning, fundraising and volunteering, all of which create a double-benefit – to communities and young people themselves.
From greed to good

Changing the face of business for good.  Delighted to read this morning that Innocent have just joined the ranks of  2,500 fellow B Corp certified companies from all over the world who are now leading the charge to change the face of business for good. 

Great that this also means opening their doors to competitors so we can all learn from each other - for me this is a powerful sign that collaboration has to be the future.

We are joining and adding momentum to an important movement of
companies and their employees – one that wants to shift the image of business
from greed to good.. And it’s an apt time to be doing this. Our business has a
duty to step forward and prove that it can act truly responsibly, not just with
the narrow mindset of profit above all else, but with a genuine commitment to
all of the people we set out to serve – the people who work here, the
people who drink our drinks, and the planet upon which we live and do business in. We will happily open the doors of our business to, to share best practice, and from whom we hope to learn how to make innocent a better company to work for and work with.
In Britain, Austerity Is Changing Everything

Well written article in the New York Times and whilst its focus is not on Oxfordshire but Liverpool the argument and reality still strikes a familiar chord.    Further evidence of the pressing need to collaborate for Our Common Good.

After eight years of budget cutting, Britain is looking less like the rest of Europe and more like the United States, with a shrinking welfare state and spreading poverty.
Does charity begin at home?

I attended a fascinating debate last night, hosted by Quartet, our fellow Community Foundation in Bristol, which cleverly unpicked both the meaning of home and the idea that learning to be generous has to begin somewhere. For many, this 'in the home'.

Other thoughts that struck a chord:

Philanthropy and charity remain different, but whilst they might initially start with a generous heart for those we love, they cannot and do not stop there. Obviously the secretary-turned-philanthropist in the NYT article below realised this more than anyone.

Charity needs to start where there is greatest need - but how do you define need? Often it is the very many things we simply take for granted.

Sustainable Development Goals go a long way to articulate where to start in terms of our basic level of need e.g. no hunger, clean water.

Whilst not as many as the 93 million living in slums in India, there are still plenty of children in Oxfordshire going without proper meals throughout the school holidays or arriving at school not having had breakfast. The Revd in Banbury can tell you all about that.

It is most important we don't make a mistake and do nothing, because we can make a difference even by helping just one person.

Anita Roddick was quoted as saying if you are worried about how small an impact you might have, just try going to bed with a mosquito!

So let's all go out into the world today and do something wonderful and explore what makes us all insanely human: that philanthropic exultation to give back.  The need has never been greater, and we all share a responsibility to accept that in so many cases it is our own exploitation of 'the system' that causes so many of the problems we see around us, whether at home or abroad.

Even by the dizzying standards of New York City philanthropy, a recent $6.24 million donation to the Henry Street Settlement on the Lower East Side was a whopper — the largest single gift from an individual to the social service group in its 125-year history.

It was not donated by some billionaire benefactor, but by a frugal legal secretary from Brooklyn who toiled for the same law firm for 67 years until she retired at age 96 and died not long afterward in 2016.

Her name was Sylvia Bloom and even her closest friends and relatives had no idea she had amassed a fortune over the decades. She did this by shrewdly observing the investments made by the lawyers she served.
Is there a connection between loneliness and food?

Comfort eating when bored or stressed is often linked to the increasing incidence of obesity, but what about another extreme altogether where loneliness itself can lead to malnutrition? 

This article makes me really think we need to be doing more to encourage community eating... and if we can make it healthy then we really would be winning.

Despite a continued reduction in absolute
poverty amongst pensioners, over a million older people are likely to be
malnourished or at risk of malnutrition.

The main causes of this malnutrition are
loneliness and isolation, often brought about by a string of setbacks such as
bereavement, illness, shop closures and a loss of community transport or Meals
on Wheels.

Targeted investment in services which protect
older people from malnutrition would deliver significant annual savings to the
NHS, not least by reducing the number of hospital admissions and limiting the
number of days older people spend in hospital.

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