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The Step Change annual review celebrates the 12 months to April 2022, when four new infrastructure grants were made to the tune of over £208k, and project managers supported the ongoing implementation of 12 active projects.

The aim of the Step Change Fund is to strengthen foundations of proven voluntary sector organisations, so that they can grow to meet the challenges faced by some of our most disadvantaged neighbours. Donors to Step Change understand and value the vital contribution to the community made by voluntary sector organisations; the fund gives donors a unique vehicle for combining their resources and making investments at a scale that reinforces the best organisations for the long term. The Step Change Fund is hosted and administered by Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

The annual review gives details of activities during the 2021-22 financial year, when the Step Change Fund made the following new grants:

  • £35,000 to Be Free Young Carers, which supports children who care for a relative at home, to extend the success of their South Oxfordshire service to the rest of the county
  • £48,460 to My Life My Choice, which supports people with learning disabilities to take control of their own lives, to provide greater access for disabled people to digital platform activities
  • £55,000 to People, Place and Participation, which manages a community enterprise hub in Oxford’s Florence Park, to increase trading and widen services at their shop and café
  • £70,107 to Quest for Learning, which supports children to read well and be confident about maths, to upgrade their systems and allow rapid charity growth.

The review also gives progress updates on projects funded in previous years that are still receiving their tranched grant payments, or are in the one-year monitoring period. All are being supported by their project manager to ensure they meet KPIs and continue to realise the benefits of the grant.

One example of an in-progress project is homelessness drop-in service Oxford Gatehouse. Step Change funding has enabled them to invest in IT infrastructure that has transformed the way they operate on a day-to-day basis. New software is helping them motivate their people and articulate their impact in a completely new way.

Another example is loneliness charity The Archway Foundation. A Step Change grant has empowered the organisation to significantly increase its capability by transforming the type, reach and activity of its volunteers.

Full case studies can be read in the annual review, along with updates on the Step Change finances and project manager team, and a tribute to the fund’s founder Marion Stevenson.

Step Change Chair Sandy Arbuthnot says: “It is, as always, my pleasure to thank our donors, whose great generosity allows us to assist so many excellent organisations in the County. We are funded by sizeable donations from a small number of local philanthropists, and we continue to look for additional donors as we expand our support of Oxfordshire’s most deserving charities.

“Following the end of COVID-19 restrictions, we look forward to stepping up our grant giving to those organisations best placed to address the challenges of 2022 and in particular, the poverty caused by the continuing sharp rises in the cost of living.”

Read the full annual review