Sunday 1 July, Cowley Road Carnival Day, and twenty-two letting and sales agents spent the day challenged by Cowley Road Works (the charity which organises the event) to raise £20k through donations from the attending public. In five teams of four or five, they were charged with trying to persuade carnival-goers to part with “A £1 to keep Carnival around.”
Mark Crampton-Smith, Director of College & County letting agents, spearheaded the initiative and is a Trustee of the charity. He said: “This is the first time we have had those with sales expertise to work the buckets on Carnival Day. We thought it would be a good opportunity for residents to see Estate and Letting agents contributing to Oxford’s best attended event.”
Mark said: “Notably it was the local and independent agents who rose to the challenge. We had energetic teams from Breckon and Breckon, Scott Fraser and College and County who made up two teams.”
The Carnival was a huge – baking hot – success. The culmination of year-long planning, around 700 people took part in the ½ mile long procession, hundreds of artists performed on 30 stages with an incredibly diverse mix of media for the entertainment of an estimated 50,000 revellers. This year, Cowley Road Works, together with local artists and partner charities successfully secured an Arts Council grant to develop inclusive access to arts and performance for differently abled groups.
Nick Jones of Nicholas Jones Residential, with offices in Oxford and Cowley, was there with his team. He said: “We had a thoroughly good time at the Carnival. For us it is very important to bring the community together and for local agents to help support the Carnival and ensure it continues each year.”
Sadly, the agents did not quite make the £20k target. Mark said: “Lots of people were stuffing notes including £20’s into the buckets, but if everyone who could afford it donated just £1 for their day packed full of activities, entertainment and fun, this would go a long way towards securing our annual costs.”
Mark is positive: “We really appreciate the contribution made by the agents. We have learned a lot and we will get more people involved next year.”
Breckon & Breckon will be back. Greg Barnes, MD (Letting & Management) said: “With around 50,000 people attending it made for a fantastic atmosphere and the procession was brilliant; people had obviously spent a huge amount of time preparing their costumes and choreography and it was great to see such community spirit. Our team of glitter covered volunteers attended for the first time this year to fundraise as part of the ‘Agents for the Community’ and we’ll certainly be back next year!”
Planning for Carnival 2019 is already under way and outreach activities continue all year round. Cowley Road Works is looking for more local businesses to get involved. And there are many ways in which it can be done – as a sponsor, a partner, donation in kind or by volunteering.
Mark said: “It is a truly enjoyable way of meeting CSR targets and involving staff in volunteering with a local charity. It ticks all the boxes. Just one day of commitment is a great starting point for those dipping their toe in the CSR water, and the impact is huge.”
For example, John Lewis sponsored two volunteers. Paul Fisher works in customer service at the store. He thoroughly enjoyed the experience: “It is my first time at Carnival and there has been a great atmosphere. I am a convert. I will be back.”
If you would like to find out more about how to get involved with Cowley Road Carnival please contact Mark at College and County firstname.lastname@example.org or Micaela Tuckwell (Executive Director of Cowley Road Works) on email@example.com to explore the possibilities.