OCF was privileged to welcome Helen Stephenson, Chief Executive of the Charity Commission, to Oxford this week. Her visit was a chance to meet some of the charities OCF has funded, and collect feedback from the ground on the Commission’s role.
Helen was accompanied in Oxford by Charity Commission trustee Eryl Besse, and welcomed by OCF Chief Executive Jayne Woodley and the team. The visit was the opportunity for Helen, who is new to her role as Chief Executive, to hear feedback from charitable organisations on the service provided by the Charity Commission, and to understand more about how small, local charities work. Helen has blogged about her new role here.
Helen and Eryl visited My Life My Choice, an advocacy charity for adults with learning disabilities, who challenged the Charity Commission to make their service more accessible; Yellow Submarine, a social enterprise café employing apprentices with disabilities, who served up delicious coffee; and Aspire, which provides employment, training and education opportunities to people overcoming adversity and complex barriers to employment. After lunch with Lisa Ward, Director of Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre, who made the case for more beneficiary-led support and impact assessment, Helen and Eryl returned to OCF’s offices to meet Peter Wilkes and Olivia Davies from Trax, a charity delivering services and training to young people who have struggled with the normal rigours of education. This was another chance for fruitful discussion around the benefits of cross-sector collaboration, and what the Charity Commission could do to encourage this.
Helen said: “What has impressed me is the ability that the community foundation has to support these important charities, but also to broker relationships with the public sector, the private sector – and to be a real glue that helps some of these community organisations flourish. I’m really grateful for the opportunity, it’s really great for me to be able to experience again why charities are such an important part of our society, and particularly here in Oxford.”
Hear more from Helen in OCF’s video: