£5 million boost to Thames Valley charities

Small local charities across the Thames Valley have received almost £5 million from four community foundations following a record-breaking year.

Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Heart of Bucks and Milton Keynes Community Foundations are celebrating this great achievement, with Berkshire and Oxfordshire each granting over £1 million for the first time in their histories.

The funding is a lifeline to grassroots charitable organisations to help them to tackle problems across the Thames Valley. The region is considered to be well off; however, there are areas of deprivation throughout. Community foundations are working hard to make sure that nobody gets left behind.

The four foundations each cover their own specific region. Between them over 650 small charities were supported in 2017–18, with grants totalling £4,875,000 to promote better mental health, reduce loneliness and alleviate poverty.

Jayne Woodley, Chief Executive of Oxfordshire Community Foundation, said “At the start of the last financial year we committed to making over £1 million in grants for the first time in our history. We are delighted to have exceeded that milestone, both by making it simpler for groups to apply for small grants, but also by giving away more substantial amounts and covering running costs for local charities to carry out their vital core work.”

One of the groups funded in Oxfordshire was Children Heard and Seen, a charity that works to mitigate the effects of parental imprisonment on children. Sixty-five per cent of boys with an imprisoned parent will go on to be offenders themselves, often playing truant and behaving in an anti-social way, and struggling with mental health issues.

Oxfordshire Community Foundation gave Children Heard and Seen £7,924 in 2017–18 to assist with rental costs and to run family days in HMP Bullingdon and HMP Huntercombe. The charity’s founder Sarah Burrows says: “Several of the participants expressed that they have benefited in terms of being able to be honest, and be a child. A common theme was that children felt they had to be the grown up, and could not discuss how they were feeling through fear of upsetting their full-time carer. To address this, we used music and film as a forum for expression.”

Thames Valley community foundations have worked together on several projects across the region, including with the Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner, where they collectively awarded £115,000 to support projects that reduce crime.

The Thames Valley community foundations are part of UKCF, a network of 46 community foundations that cover the length and breadth of the country. Community foundations are unique in that they support local giving to local groups, identifying the local need.

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