FinancialGroupsImpactNewsOCFThree images: a school boy thinking; Aristotle House; an autistic boy playing an instrument

Our Step Change Fund has just awarded a total of £146,690 to three local charitable organisations that are leading the way in their fields. The grants will support infrastructure developments that will create radical improvements to the groups’ ability to address issues such as mental health and social cohesion.

The grants have been awarded to One-Eighty, Transition by Design and the Orchestra of St John’s. OCF’s Step Change Fund is an innovative source of funding for the local charity sector, offering substantial amounts of money to support community organisations with visionary leadership that realise they need to transform the way they are organised in order to create a more solid basis for delivering their core work. The Step Change Fund is OCF’s investment in the sector, enabling it to be stronger and more sustainable, and therefore better equipped to deal with the hard-hitting social problems OCF wants to address.

The Step Change Fund has now awarded over £870,000 in infrastructure funding to 21 different charitable groups since 2014. The three initiatives awarded grants in February 2018 are as follows:

  • A grant of £48,840 to children’s mental health charity One-Eighty will help the organisation create a new traineeship programme, allowing them to increase the number of families supported. The traineeship programme will introduce a new approach to the training and induction of support professionals, bringing junior trainees on board from university courses and gradually introducing them to group interventions, then one-to-one case work. This will allow One-Eighty to future-proof its mental health support team, with anticipated progression into more senior roles for the trainees as the organisation grows. This method will ultimately save the charity around £12,000 per year compared to the costs of hiring more senior workers sooner.
  • Transition by Design will use a grant of £49,250 to support a project to turn a vacant office building in Jericho, Oxford into an affordable community hub and work space. Aristotle House is being leased from Wadham College for a two-to-three-year period before it is redeveloped, and a coalition of charitable organisations known as Makespace Oxford plans to turn the site into affordable workshop, office and community meeting spaces for social enterprises, small charities and community groups. The Step Change funding will enable a project manager to be employed to set up and manage the premises, and to make arrangements for a replicable ‘meanwhile lease’ on their next venue.
  • Support from Step Change means that the Orchestra of St John’s is now able to invest £48,600 in a two-year programme of activities to increase their community outreach. Building on their work using music to engage children with autism, they are using the funding to bring in more expertise to their team that will help them reach more people with special needs. The initiative will boost the strategic, marketing and fundraising functions so that the orchestra can engage not just more of those who live with autism spectrum conditions, but also with dementia, mental health issues or loneliness and isolation.

Colin Alexander, co-founder of the Step Change Fund, says: “We are delighted to support three more great organisations to make a ‘step change’ in the way they support vulnerable people in Oxfordshire. These groups have demonstrated visionary leadership, excellent project management skills and the strong vision needed to inspire the grants panel to support them. As well as the substantial funding we have awarded, we are pleased to offer the pro bono support of experienced project managers, who will act as mentors and help them achieve the milestones and targets they have committed to in their applications.”

Charities and social enterprises with an income of between £75,000 and £750,000 can apply to the Step Change Fund for grants of up to £50,000. The next closing date is 6th April 2018.

Apply to the Step Change Fund