The fund is held with Oxfordshire Community Foundation and will make grants to charities and community groups working with disadvantaged people in the city.
As the flagship company in Oxford’s new Westgate shopping centre, John Lewis is committed to being a good neighbour and making a meaningful contribution to the city. This is why John Lewis has chosen to work with local charity funder Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF).
At OCF’s #GivingTuesday event last night at Tap Social Movement, John Lewis’s Julie Blake announced that the company has made a donation of £125,000 to found a new Westgate Fund. This fund is John Lewis’s gift to the city of Oxford – and other businesses are being encouraged to come on board to co-create a lasting legacy that will be available to support local charitable organisations over the long term.
She says: “The opening of the new Westgate centre, along with the overall redevelopment of the city’s west end, is an important moment in Oxford’s evolution. Since arriving here earlier this year, I can see that there is great excitement locally about the new facilities and the prosperity it is hoped they will bring.
“However, the companies involved in the Westgate’s development, including John Lewis, acknowledge that the city has many unacceptable social problems that do not sit so easily with the launch of a sophisticated new shopping experience. For example, I was shocked to hear that one in five children in Oxford is living in poverty, and that the city is the most unaffordable city to live in in the whole of the UK.
“The opening of our new shop is the chance for us to give something back to the city, and we’re working with Oxfordshire Community Foundation to do just that. OCF is well embedded in the charitable sector, which does so much to alleviate these social problems, and provides invaluable support to local charities and community groups via its grant-making programmes.”
The Westgate Fund will capitalise on OCF’s well established grant-making processes to support local charities and community groups that are helping to improve the economic wellbeing of the most vulnerable local people. Grants will target work that reduces isolation and increases employability for people in the city who have struggled with homelessness, substance abuse, a history of offending or an impoverished start in life. Allocations from The Westgate Fund will be made throughout the year to OCF’s Delivering Impact grants programme, giving away awards of up to £10,000 per group.
OCF’s #GivingTuesday event was part of a global celebration of charitable giving, which follows retail days #BlackFriday and #CyberMonday.
OCF’s Chief Executive Jayne Woodley says: “We’re now looking for more partner companies to follow John Lewis’s lead and make a contribution to the Westgate Fund. We would love other businesses based in Oxford, whether or not they are directly associated with the Westgate centre, to contribute a one-off or annual pledge to the Westgate Fund. The more funds contributed, the greater difference we can make to the lives of those less fortunate right on our doorsteps.”