HOMELESS and vulnerable Oxford residents could soon be getting some helpful advice on their legal rights as tenants.
The idea is one of a raft of new schemes being planned by Oxford’s network of advice centres, thanks to £232,000 of National Lottery Funding.
Last year, Oxford Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB) was one of 147 charities, schools and community groups in the county to get a share of £6m lottery cash.
Didcot children’s cancer charity, Friends of Oscar, won £10,000 to arrange activities for children and teenagers with brain or spinal tumours, and West Oxford Community Primary School won £7,316 for new play equipment.
Since it started in 1995, the lottery has given £228m to Oxfordshire, slightly under ten per cent of the total £28bn awarded throughout the country.
Oxford CAB director Gill Tishler said: “We would have struggled to get that sort of money from anywhere else at this time.”
From left, mums Emily Shaw with Felix and Oscar, Camilla Preece with Leo, Sarah Bissell with Ewan, Sally Martin with Rafferty, midwife Rachel Fitz-Desorgher, and Catherine Carr with Lucy at the Wallingford Baby Cafe
The CAB led a joint bid between 10 Oxford advice agencies in January last year, including Blackbird Leys’ Agnes Smith centre, Rose Hill and Donnington advice centre and Age UK Oxfordshire.
The groups came up with a proposal for how they could work together by sharing resources, meaning the money could help more people in the city. Mrs Tishler said: “We could see that there was going to be a growing pressure on advice agencies in the city, as a result of changes to legal aid, benefits and housing advice, all against the background of the recession.”
The 10 centres will use the money to create a new central advice website for Oxford, put on classes to teach people their rights and responsibilities as tenants and pay for research into the benefits and effects of advice, which Mrs Tishler said will help when they apply for future funding.
She said: “I think we are already seeing benefits of the project, in terms of having a better understanding of what other organisations have to offer, and our staff know more about where they can direct clients for specialist advice. We have accumulated knowledge just from putting the bid together and it is great to have that wide range of partners.”
From left, Sandra Tebby, Ann Stead, site foreman Jim Morgan and the Rev Caroline King at St John the Baptist Church in Stadhampton
Of the county’s five districts – Vale of White Horse, South Oxfordshire, West Oxfordshire, Cherwell and Oxford, the city has seen the most lottery funding over the years, with 1,175 grants totalling £121m. The lottery channels funding through grant bodies like Arts Council England, the Heritage Lottery fund and, especially in the year following the London Olympics, Sport England.
Enjoying the new play equipment at West Oxford Community Primary School are, front, from left, Alex Adams and Gregor Jeffrey with, back from left, Fiona Jeffrey, Ella Raikes, Roo Adams and Saskya Huggins
Villagers in Stadhampton, South Oxfordshire, raised £385,000 last year to convert their parish church into a community centre. That included £9,989 from the National Lottery’s Awards for All scheme, which was used towards paying for a new kitchen.
Ann Stead, who led the fundraising, said it was a “small but essential” part of the total.
Mrs Stead, 61, said: “It was absolutely essential. Funding community projects is exceedingly difficult and local funding wouldn’t be able to achieve that so you need a centralised system.”
Clare Charleson, front, manager of Agnes Smith Advice Centre in Blackbird Leys, with Laura Court, Latisha Walker, Jacki Knight, Laura Wilson, Steve Knight and Wayne Prescott
Meanwhile, Wallingford Baby Cafe, for new mums, was opened in the town’s Ridgeway Community Church in 2012 with grant cash from the National Lottery, Wallingford Children's Centre and the National Childbirth Trust (NCT).
The £6,396,181 shared by 147 organisations in 2013 was less than half the £14m given to the county in 2012, and even less than the £6.6m donated the year the lottery started, 1995.
National Lottery ticket buyers raise £33 million every week for good causes.
‘We want to hear from you’
The public can nominate the organisation which they think has made best use of lottery funds in the National Lottery Awards 2014.
Groups can even nominate themselves to be in with a chance of winning a £2,000 cash prize and national recognition.
The winners will be awarded their prizes as part of the National Lottery Awards Show, a star-studded event to be broadcast on BBC One later this year.
Doctor Who and Torchwood star John Barrowman, presenter of last year’s awards show, said: “The Awards are a great way of celebrating their work and the unsung heroes helping people with National Lottery funding.
“Everyone in Oxfordshire who plays the National Lottery should be proud of the difference their money is making in the local community.
“If you know of a Lottery-funded organisation that deserves to be nominated, we want to hear from you.”
The awards have the following categories – heritage, arts, environment, health, education and volunteering or charity.
To nominate a charity for the awards, go to nationallotteryawards.org.ukEntries must be received by midnight on March 12.
WHO GETS WHAT?
Vale Of White Horse
2013 = 12 grants totalling £278,636, including
£181,019 health, education, environment and charitable expenditure
2012 = 20 grants totalling £637,594
1995 = 5 grants totalling £413,505
Since 1995 - 567 grants totalling £20,856,479
2013 = 37 grants totalling £1,327,076, including
£419,230 health, education, environment and charitable expenditure
2012 = 24 grants totalling £827,840
1995 = 8 grants totalling £379,811
Since 1995 - 609 grants totalling £43,234,453
2013 = 57 grants totalling £3,622,154, including
£163,936 health, education, environment and charitable expenditure
2012 = 56 grants totalling £11,406,197
1995 = 20 grants totalling £4,552,975
Since 1995 - 1175 grants totalling £121,945,181
2013 = 21 grants totalling £637,126, including
£240,258 health, education, environment and charitable expenditure
2012 = 14 grants totalling £993,035
1995 = 4 grants totalling £244,378
Since 1995 - 565 grants totalling £21,626,043
2013 = 20 grants totalling £531,189
£58,910 health, education, environment and charitable expenditure
2012 = 18 grants totalling £404,527
1995 = 8 grants totalling £1,009,313
Since 1995 - 485 grants totalling £20,935,158
Total since 1995: £228,597,314