Financial help still on offer to change lives - one musical at a time!

A second round of funding is now available for community groups and organisations supporting people to live well and independently within their own communities.

Katie and Gina - Gig Buddies

Meet Katie from Witney. Like many people in their early thirties, Katie, who has a learning disability, enjoys going out to clubs and loves musical theatre.

And thanks to a programme which introduced her to fellow musicals fan Gina (pictured, right) from Oxford, Katie (pictured, left), 32, is now enjoying regular visits to the theatre and monthly Stingray club nights, for adults with learning disabilities.

Now firm friends, Katie and Gina met through the gig buddy scheme led by My Life My Choice – an organisation that provides independent support for people with learning disabilities in Oxfordshire.

It is one of almost 50 organisations that have benefited from the first round of Oxfordshire County Council’s community capacity grants. The funding is awarded to groups that strengthen the councils’ adult social care Oxfordshire Way vision, supporting people to live well and independently within their own communities.

And with a second round of funding now open, more community groups are encouraged to apply.

Katie said: “Having disabilities does not mean I can’t do things I love. Through the gig buddy scheme, I’ve met a friend for life, going to shows in Oxford and having a great time at the Stingray nightclub. The positive experiences I have give me the confidence to take on other challenges and live life to the max.”

The gig buddy programme matches people with learning disabilities with a volunteer who shares similar interests and arranges activities they can do together. The programme supports neurodivergent people to enjoy the things they love and share those experiences with others. It can be anything from going to football matches, the cinema, museums or concerts.

The scheme was awarded £9,282 from the council’s community capacity grants. Launched last autumn, the fund recognises the value and benefit that grass roots organisations bring to Oxfordshire and the need to invest in the wealth of local expertise, knowledge and connections they bring.

Two funding pots were initially available: a smaller connected communities fund for applications of less than £5,000 that was managed by Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action and Community First Oxfordshire; and a larger community capacity grant administered by the Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF).

So far, more than £340,000 has been awarded to 53 groups across Oxfordshire and organisations are now invited to take part in a second round of funding for the larger OCF administered grant, for requests between £5,000 and £10,000.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We want to support people to live well, within their own communities, for as long as possible. It’s something we call The Oxfordshire Way.

“Community capacity grants enable grass roots organisations to deliver this support at local level, strengthening and developing their vital work and helping to identify areas which may need additional funding. I would urge anyone involved in these groups to consider applying for a grant to further the excellent work they do.”

While a range of different initiatives will be considered, from arts and music groups to dementia friendly cafes, priority will be given to areas where there is a clear gap in provision.

Once an application has been received, the OCF panel will assess eligibility and ensure the most appropriate organisations are selected to develop their capability and capacity.

New applications must be received by midday on Monday 13 March. For more information and to apply, go to oxfordshire.gov.uk/communitycapacitygrants and follow the Oxfordshire Community Foundation link.

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