In December 2022 The Cost of Living Fund awarded its first set of grants, totalling £286,165 to 42 local organisations, supporting charitable organisations working to help the most disadvantaged in our county cope with this unprecedented crisis.
One of these organisations was Oxford Mutual Aid (OMA), who are using their grant of £9,980 to provide food and essential support to some of Oxford’s most at-risk residents. Since January 2022, OMA has delivered a minimum of 14,876 parcels and provided weekly support to local community groups and charities, including Syrian Sisters and Oxford Asian Women’s Voice. OMA’s Managing Director Muireann Speed explains: “Food shortages have rendered the landscape challenging. With prices skyrocketing across food, fuel and energy, OMA is more in demand than ever. This grant will provide resources to continue our vital work and also to expand it through more in-person wrap-around support. OMA is supporting increasing cases of complex need, so we will upskill staff/volunteers and add administrative support in this area.”
The Porch also received a grant of £10,000 from the Cost of Living Fund. The Porch is a day centre in Oxford that provides a safe and welcoming warm bank, free freshly cooked meals, hot showers, clothes bank, laundry service, internet access, welfare advice and social activities to the homeless and vulnerably housed. The cost-of-living crisis means they are seeing many new faces use their service in recent months, and the impact has been particularly high in the areas such as Blackbird Leys, Rose Hill and Barton. This funding from OCF will support them to extend their service to the community.
Riverside Counselling Service supports mental health in Didcot and Berinsfield. They are using a grant of £6,000 from the Cost of Living Fund to cover the staffing costs of the Clinical Managers who lead, manage and monitor their services. Amanda Collins from Riverside Counselling says: “We are already seeing how the cost-of-living crisis is impacting peoples’ mental health, causing additional stress and anxiety, especially the most vulnerable or those with pre-existing mental health conditions. This is leading to uncontrolled low moods and, for some, more severe depression and panic attacks or increased use of alcohol or drugs, all of which affect relationships, family life and work or employment prospects. Counselling has a lasting impact on people’s mental health and future life chances and provides a more preventative solution.”
These grants were funded by OCF and Oxfordshire County Council, and also supported through a dedicated fundraising appeal. We could not do this without our generous donors, businesses and members of the public, in particular:
- The Tambour Foundation
- HDH Wills Charitable Trust
- Donors to OCF’s Collective Business Fund (RWK Goodman, Prodrive, Wise Funds, Allen Associates, Olamalu and Mills and Reeve)
- The Brethertons Fund
- All Souls College
- Several generous individual donors who wish to remain anonymous.
The cost-of-living crisis is not going away, and OCF is committed to giving ongoing support to the grassroots community organisations. OCF will be carrying out a consultation with the charity sector to review what is needed.