OCF’s annual #GivingTuesday event was held last night at new social enterprise hub Makespace Oxford, where around 80 donors and supporters heard from beneficiaries of our work.
Every year Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) welcomes donors and supporters to an informal drinks reception to mark #GivingTuesday – the charity antidote to retail days #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday! The event is the chance for us to celebrate another year of giving with our friends and supporters.
Guests enjoyed delicious food from the Syrian Sisters, a group of refugee women who have set up a social enterprise catering for events. OCF has supported the group via a grant to Asylum Welcome, which provided assistance to Syrian families arriving in Oxford in 2017.
OCF’s Chief Executive Jayne Woodley opened proceedings, emphasising what has become an OCF tradition – to bring guests to places they will not have been to before, and to meet, hear and see people they wouldn’t normally bump into.
OCF’s achievements over the past year were celebrated, including our £1.2 million grant-making milestone, which represents a six-fold increase since 2010. A key part of OCF’s work has also been to influence and inspire others to follow our lead, convening three different collaborative projects focused on tackling homelessness, loneliness, and educational inequality. This has resulted in three priority themes in all of our work – A Place to Call Home, A Sense of Belonging, and An Opportunity to Thrive. More about these can be found in our latest impact report, which was launched on #GivingTuesday.
Jayne introduced Andy Edwards from Makespace, who gave some background to the venue and OCF’s support of the project. The building where the event was held was an empty office space owned by Wadham College, earmarked for redevelopment in 2020. Makespace have negotiated a meanwhile lease on the building, and been given permission to use it as an affordable workspace for local charities and social enterprises. Some of those now renting affordable space in the building include Aspire Oxford and the Young Women’s Music Project – much of which has been made possible by a large infrastructure grant through OCF’s Step Change Fund.
Guests then heard from Jon Pape from Thrive, a charity based in Blackbird Leys and Barton that helps disadvantaged young people gain confidence and skills, preparing them for the workplace. Jon outlined how OCF had supported Thrive with over £68,000 in grant funding over 16 years, enabling projects such as the charity’s Young Leaders Programme, which mentors young people and empowers them to become leaders and mentors for their younger peers. One young leader, Devon, spoke alongside Jon about how Thrive’s programme had given him the self-belief to talk to others, get involved in activities outside his comfort zone and go to university.
The event closed with a few words from OCF’s Chair John Taylor, who thanked donors for their support. Crucially, whilst OCF benefits hugely from philanthropic people sharing their time and talents, we also need financial support to really achieve our ambitions: for example, to help us fund a greater proportion of the brilliant grant applications we receive each year.