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Source: City of Oxford

Oxford City Council is relaunching the #WeAreOxford community campaign to celebrate the diversity, generosity and sense of community that makes Oxford a great place to live and work.

Originally launched to help build stronger communities post-Brexit, the campaign has broadened it in light of all that’s been learnt from the pandemic. As well as recognising different experiences of culture, religion, ethnicity, disability and different age groups, the Council also wants to encourage projects around financial inclusion for those that have experienced increased hardship as a result of the pandemic.

Through the pandemic we have seen an amazing response from people across the city, from people volunteering to those setting up new organisations to answer local need. To help each other through the crisis, people have reached out across traditional social boundaries, including across neighbourhoods, nationalities, different places of worship and generations.

The #WeAreOxford campaign will highlight that community spirit. The grant funding will help build on that foundation by enabling activity that continues those cross-community relationships, focusing on activities beyond pandemic support. This could be anything from children’s activities to creating art in shared spaces, a news project or skills development.

Community organisations have already been contacted about a new #WeAreOxford grant fund for community activity. Now there is a last call out for short Expressions of Interest from community groups for grants for up to £5,000 per project.

The grants are to help build bridges between residents from different national, cultural, economic and social backgrounds from across the city and support the cultivation of a shared sense that Oxford is a city of diversity, belonging and community.

Grants up to £5000 will be awarded to create projects or activities that help achieve this goal, prioritising proposals that focus on building lasting friendships. More information is at www.oxford.co.uk/grants

The deadline for Expressions of Interest is Thursday 28 January. These are short, informal applications that allow the Council to review the ideas and invite the best to attend a funding webinar to help them develop their full proposal and connect with other groups they may want to partner with.

The pandemic is expected to restrict our lives for many more months, so the challenge is to create activities that can be delivered in a Covid-safe way.

As well as funding groups, the Council will also be celebrating ‘community connectors’, individuals and groups whose work and volunteering brings together people from many different backgrounds. These are the people whose contribution, not just to the pandemic response but to any aspect of life in Oxford, embodies the diversity, generosity and sense of community in the city.

“In this really difficult time it’s important not to lose sight of what’s to come. A lot of the most positive activity in our city is invisible right now in lockdown, we want to bring it into view to remind people that Oxford is a fantastically diverse, generous and community-spirited city.

“I’m delighted that we’re able to look ahead to funding community activities that aren’t just about the pandemic response, and there’s still time for groups that haven’t entered to put in an expression of interest. While life right now is hard in lockdown, this grant fund will allow us to imagine beyond the current restrictions and start thinking again about making new connections.

“You’ll start seeing more of the #WeAreOxford tag over the coming weeks, and we’ll be searching for our Community Connectors to show us the best of what is happening in our city. In our current limited life, it’s important that we all feel the sense of connection that #WeAreOxford aims to celebrate. While our communities can’t be physically together we can be closer in other ways.”
Councillor Marie Tidball, Cabinet Member for Supporting Local Communities

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