Children playing at the centre, seen from above

Donnington Doorstep logoDonnington Doorstep is an independent, community-based family centre delivering a range of universal and specialist services. Via their weekly drop-in ‘stay and play’ sessions, parenting courses and dedicated case workers, the centre engages informally with hard-to-reach families in a deprived area of Oxford.

Serving hard-to-reach families

There are over 600 children on Child Protection Plans in Oxfordshire, and there were 373 victims in Oxford’s Bullfinch paedophile ring. Donnington Doorstep is working in an area of Oxford where many young girls are identified as being at risk of child sexual exploitation. The centre’s relaxed approach has allowed Donnington Doorstep to gain the trust of young people and families to address hard-hitting social problems, including working closely with the young female victims of child grooming.

Bringing wider funding opportunities to Oxfordshire

In 2016, Doorstep built on this experience to bid for over £18,000 in funding from Building a Stronger Britain Together, a Home Office initiative to promote better social integration amongst diverse communities. The programme is administered by community foundations across the UK, considered trusted partners for soliciting top-quality applications and carrying out due diligence. It is a great example of OCF using its networks to provide more money to the local sector.

This funding has enabled Doorstep to specifically engage with isolated women in the Asian community in East Oxford via a three-point plan: informal one-to-one support from a dedicated case worker; two ten-week parenting programmes focused on building resilience; and a new support group for girls from the Asian community.

Beth Knighton, Director at Donnington Doorstep, says: “This grant has enabled us to address a need that we have seen building in the community over many years. We have seen widespread issues of isolation amongst local communities, which prevents people from accessing services or communicating with the wider community, and creates a lack of identity. Our long-term aim is that the groups will integrate over time with the rest of our services, and with the wider Oxford community.”

Lessons for OCF

Whilst OCF does not partner with government funding bodies frequently, the choice of community foundations as a partner for this fund is crucial. National or regional funders can take advantage of the UK network of community foundations, all of which have to meet a common quality accreditation standard. From a funder point of view, our network gives access to almost all of the local charities and community groups doing vital grassroots work in a particular area.

“This grant has enabled us to address a need that we have seen building in the community over many years.

Beth Knighton, Director, Donnington Doorstep

At a glance


Independently run children’s centre working with potentially marginalised families

Social themes

Child sexual exploitation


Community cohesion


Bringing isolated families into the wider community and making them aware of services and support they can access