Meet the Innovation winners as bids invited for a slice of £100,000 in grant funding

A magnificent seven projects – from a community gardening group to nostalgia cafes - have won funding from Oxfordshire County Council to boost daytime support for adults in innovative ways.

And now there’s a chance for more organisations to benefit from the Innovation Fund with £100,000 up for grabs with a second round of bids for grants opening today.

The funding is available to community and voluntary sector organisations which can prove there is a need for a new service that can help people lead full and varied lives. And they must prove their ideas will be sustainable.

Oxfordshire Community & Voluntary Action is available to provide support to organisations wishing to bid for innovation funding, and to provide advice and information on alternative funding opportunities. www.ocva.org.uk

Applications can be received between now and noon on September 21.

A cross-party panel will evaluate applications on October 1 with recommendations to Cabinet for decision in November 20. Successful applicants can expect to receive funding in January 2019.

A total of £56,494 was awarded to a rich variety of charities, groups and organisations in the first tranche of funding.

All of them will use the one-off grants to support people with social contact, getting out of the house, maintaining independence as well as seeing and making friends.

The Innovation Fund was created after Oxfordshire County Council made changes to daytime support for people aged 18 and over. Its aim is to provide one-off funding to support the development of self-sustaining projects, delivering new opportunities for adults that are fit for the future.

Cllr Judith Heathcoat, Deputy Leader of Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I am delighted that these community groups and organisations have been awarded this funding. Each of them has come up with innovative ways to enrich the lives of so many, helping to reduce social isolation and loneliness. I hope many more groups across the county will be inspired by their success and will apply for grants in the next round of applications. Our thanks must also go to the fabulous team at OCVA for their support and advice to interested groups wanting to apply for a grant.”

And Deirdre Wallace, Senior Strategic Commissioning Officer at Oxfordshire County Council, who set up the funding process, said: “The creativity and innovation demonstrated by successful projects sets very high standards for this next round of funding. Recommendations for awards from the Innovation fund were co-produced with people who use services, which for me personally was a process I felt very privileged to be part of – it tells us that we are getting things right! I would encourage all community and voluntary groups with innovative ideas of how to make life better for adults in Oxfordshire to apply to the Innovation Fund.”


Marston Community Gardening. This fledgling community food production group successfully bid for £2,500 to encourage more people within the village community to grow their own fruit and vegetables either on publicly accessible sites or in their own gardens. The organisation, pictured harvesting crops, already runs successful plants swaps and seed giveaways and helps encourage interest, knowledge, confidence and ability in growing food in a sustainable communal environment. It plans to run projects in public areas for the benefit of all local residents – encouraging people to get active and socialise. The funding will be used to buy equipment, tools, and plants.

Oxfordshire Gig Buddies. This coalition between Age UK Oxfordshire, Restore, Oxford Association for the Blind and My Life My Choice won £22,477 for a 12-month pilot project. It uses the concept of matching beneficiaries with volunteers who loves the same kind of ‘gigs’ – anything from football matches, to museum visits, to the cinema or a concert. Not only would there be lonely or isolated beneficiaries being supported by volunteers, the volunteers themselves will come from the four charity coalition. In this way the group aims to double up its effect, so that the Buddies can also gain confidence and skills which may in turn help them enter a paid/volunteer role outside the project. It aims to help 60 people in its first year and work begins on September 1.

Oxford Chinese Community and Advice Centre, East Oxford. It successfully bid for £11,500 to help older and vulnerable Chinese people in the county develop healthy and sustainable lifestyles, by taking part in more leisure and creative activities which in turn break down barriers, counter loneliness and isolation. The Chinese community is the fastest growing ethnic group in the county with the highest proportion of people aged over 50. Many Chinese describe themselves as ‘deaf, dumb and blind’ due to their lack of English and some are now frail with mobility issues and dementia. OCCAC will use its funding to appoint two part-time trilingual co-ordinators in Cantonese, Mandarin, Hakka and English and to train six volunteers to deliver a range of activities benefiting 750 people– including visits to Memory Cafes

Age Friendly Cultural Network Oxfordshire – Age UK has been awarded £8,000 to create a pioneering network that will draw on the county’s rich resources of professionals from the arts, culture, age, health, academia and community sectors. They will explore how a network can co-produce more effective, sustainable and diverse ways in which older people in Oxfordshire can take part in creative and cultural activties. It aims to be a national exemplar of best practice. Drawing on research, it states that up to 15,000 older people in the county are chronically lonely and that creative and cultural activities exemplify five ways to well-being: ‘connect, be active, keep learning, take notice and give’. Among its aims from September 1 will be to produce a cultural brochure for older people.

Witney Day Centre in Fettiplace Road, Witney has successfully bid £5,000 to add to existing funds to buy a 17-seater minibus. It will enable some of its less mobile elderly members without transport to attend the day centre. The centre, which has been running for six months, provides a day out for people to meet up and make friends. Attendees can take part in keep fit sessions, arts and crafts, games and flower arranging. They also enjoy a two-course meal and entertainment, like dance group performances. The minibus, with two volunteer drivers, would also be used to take some of the centre’s 40 members on day trips to gardens centres, shops and parks. Running costs would be met by sponsorship from local businesses that have already pledged money.

Faringdon Sensory Garden at Wicklesham Lodge Farm in Faringdon has successfully bid for £4,805 to run a Nostalgia Café specifically for the elderly and for those with dementia. When opened it will be packed with nostalgic items, music, therapies, appropriate furniture and has the potential to cater for sessions of 16 people twice daily. It has the support of local care homes and community groups and could be up and running in April next year.

Green Pastures Christian Nursing Home, Bath Road, Banbury: An application for £2,126 was approved to fund a monthly Nostalgia Café to be exclusively used by people with dementia living in their own homes as well as their carers. The aim is to make the café, which would be run in Green Pasture’s atrium, a fun, supportive and restorative place where people with dementia can join activities like singalongs, arts and crafts, and even the sport of ‘kurling’ – an indoor version of curling. Carers would be able to receive professional advice and support from agencies like Dementia Oxfordshire.


Support for completing applications is available from OCVA and is outlined in the application form/guidance.