Oliver Wilkes at a fine drawing workshop

Over £29k gifted to support communities and local people

Over the past year, we've gifted grants totalling over £29,000 to 15 community projects and two local people.

We are West Oxfordshire’s largest affordable housing provider, and the grants were given in 2021-22 from our Community Fund, which supports the work people, charities and voluntary groups do in local communities.

The most recent projects to receive financial support include:

  • Yellow Submarine – a social-enterprise café based in the Windrush Leisure Centre in Witney, which provides traineeship programmes for young people with learning disabilities and autism. The £1,110 grant will help them purchase a new display fridge, portable speaker and kitchen equipment to help support trainees with their fine motor skills.
  • Got2Be – who offer a range of services, courses, activities and workshops for young people in the Witney and Carterton and are looking to expand. The £2,030 grant will help staff obtain their Level 3 Diploma in Youth Work and Risk Assessment/Health and Safety Training.
  • The Theatre Chipping Norton – £2,050 to support their winter programme of online activities and workshops which Cottsway customers could access for free. Activities included dance, cookery and arts and crafts.
  • Filkins Playground Project – £2,275 towards a basket swing as part of the village’s refurbishment of the current playground which is no longer fit for purpose.
  • Witney ATC – £2,500 towards purchasing a ground training simulator to enable more young people aged 14-20 to take part in their free glider training and scholarships.

Cottsway customers are asked to vote via social media for projects that apply to the Community Fund. They are asked which ones they would like to support and have a say on the amount of funding that is awarded.

Michael Caffrey, Commanding Officer at Witney Air Cadets said: “Thanks to this overwhelmingly generous donation from Cottsway, we have hit our fundraising target and been able to purchase the flight simulator needed to prepare young persons across Witney and outlying areas for flying and gliding scholarships. We provide these scholarships completely free of charge meaning we are providing life-changing opportunities to cadets from every background and walk of life, and in early May one of our cadets having prepared for a scholarship on one of these simulators undertook her first solo in a single-engine aircraft at the age of just 17.

“We are extremely grateful to Cottsway and the residents that voted to support our application. As a group, we welcome any young person aged 12 (and in year 8) to 17, providing them with skills and training useful for adult life, as well as a chance to try new activities, make more friends and broaden their horizons in a fun, affordable and engaging way. We pride ourselves on our diversity and inclusion which makes us a fun, engaging and welcoming group, and this grant has allowed us to increase our inclusivity by opening doors for cadets who previously would not have been able to access the necessary pre-scholarship training.”

The Community Fund is also to Cottsway customers who wish to learn new skills and increase job prospects. Grants of up to £250 are available to help pay for training and coaching courses, qualifications and learning support materials.

Oliver Wilkes (pictured), 20, who lives in a Cottsway home in West Oxfordshire, is studying online for a Level 3 Diploma in Youth Work as part of his work’s apprenticeship scheme. He received a £200 grant to use towards relevant study aids. He said “Thanks to the Cottsway Community Fund I have been able to purchase a new laptop. This has been crucial to my apprenticeship as without this money I would have had to take out a loan to pay for a laptop – or I wouldn’t have been able to access the course.

“I think the Community Fund is an amazing opportunity for Cottsway residents and I’ve been encouraging other young people I know to apply for the grant as due to their age or living arrangement being able to afford extra supplies for school or college on their own is really difficult, if not impossible. I would love for more people to apply to the Community Fund so that they can access supplies to further enhance their education no matter their age or income.”

Lorna Jones, our Community Investment Officer, said: ““It’s fantastic that we’ve been able to support such a wide-ranging variety of projects, groups and individuals during 2021-22, especially during the pandemic and the various lockdowns.

“Our Community Fund can help make a real difference both to the communities where we work and to our customers’ futures, so I’d encourage anyone who could benefit from additional funding to get in touch.”

The Community Fund for 2022-23 is now open for applications and a total funding pot of £30,000 is available. For more information, including the Community Fund Annual Report which includes details of all the causes supported last year, see: Community Fund

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