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Sixteen organisations compete in RAG charity ballot

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Howard Lake

Every year, Oxford Raise and Give supports four charities – two local, two national or international – which are selected by ballot. These charities share RAG’s fundraising profits for the following academic year. This week, students have the chance to vote for four new charities. With so many to choose from, however, the Oxford Student offers a low-down on the sixteen charities hoping for funding:

Local charities

SAFE! (Support For Young People Affected By Crime): This charity provides support to young people between the ages of 8 and 25 who have been hurt by crime. It handles cases of bullying, sexual abuse, domestic violence, mugging, cyber crime, and more. SAFE! offers crime victims one-to-one sessions with a professional worker in any environment where they feel most comfortable, such as at school, at home, or at a local community centre. It aims to help young people recover their confidence and return to a happy childhood or young adulthood. This service is provided free of charge, and anyone can refer themselves or a friend who lives in Thames Valley to them.

FarmAbility: This charity, which operates at the former Oxford University Farm, is an outdoor programme for co-farmers (adults with autism and learning disabilities). The farm comprises 1650 acres of farmland, and is home to a 120-cow herd and 1,000 sheep. Co-farmers work on projects like horse care, growing vegetables, bedding up sheep, collecting and grading eggs, and practical woodwork. It is run by the Farm Inspiration Trust (FIT), which sees huge potential for farming to make a positive contribution to society. The activities completed by co-farmers aim to build their skills and improve their physical and mental wellbeing.

Keen: This charity was established by New College students in 1988 as a sports club for children with learning disabilities. It has since expanded to incorporate both children and adults with special needs, and it now offers social, sporting and recreational activities. Each year, about 200 people with special needs can take part in these activities, supported by around 300 volunteers. Most of these volunteers are students and young professionals. The KEEN ethos is that everyone deserves to have fun in a friendly, understanding environment. In 2018, it will be turning 30, and would like to expand its services accordingly.

Aspire: This charity was established in 2001 to help the homeless and other vulnerable people find work. Last year, it supported and gave work to 160 trainees who had been out of work for 4.2 years on average. It provides commercial services across Oxfordshire, from grounds maintenance to furniture upcycling, and prides itself on delivering a high quality service while doing good for the community. Aspire also hires a team of specialist support workers to guide its trainees towards happy and independent futures; 93% of trainees maintain their recovery from substance misuse on the programme.

Oxford Homeless Pathways: This charity started as an Oxford Night Shelter, providing emergency overnight accommodation to vulnerable people in the area. It has grown to maintain two housing projects (O’Hanlon House and Julian Housing) for the assessment and resettling of homeless adults. This accommodation not only provides a safe living space for its clients, but offers them training and activities to help improve over their lives, with a maximum stay of 6 to 9 months. OxHOP also manages the Oxford Homeless Medical Fund, which raises funds to support medical services for local homeless people.

OSARCC (Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse and Rape Crisis Centre): This charity supports women and girl survivors of sexual violence in Oxfordshire through support groups, counselling, advocacy, helpline and email support. It is a collective of women from all backgrounds which was founded in 1979 to tailor support after sexual violence to each victim who needs it. OSARCC also delivers consent workshops in schools, and worked closely with OUSU to build the consent programme delivered to Oxford University students. In 2015/16, it supported 465 women across its services, and is currently the only specialist organisation supporting survivors in Oxford.

Jacari: This charity is run by students in Oxford and, though it was originally set up to lobby against racial intolerance, it has evolved into a home teaching scheme across the city. It provides home tutoring for disadvantaged children between the ages of 4 to 16. Most of the children it works with come from immigrant families, and the majority only speak English as a second language. Volunteers visit these children for an hour or so a week, often becoming good friends with the whole family they visit. The weekly tutoring sessions have been proven to improve the confidence and grades of the children involved.

Young Women’s Music Project: This charity offers twice-monthly free workshops for women between the ages of 14 to 21 so they can make music together, express themselves and learn new skills. It also runs projects, gigs and exhibitions in institutions like the Ashmolean Museum and the Pitt Rivers Museum. These projects help young people to challenge issues like race, sexuality, gender, class, mental health and consent in a creative and inclusive way. 80% of the young people who attend YWMP’s projects have experienced domestic violence, 80% have experienced sexual assault, 50% suffer from mental health issues, and many are NEET.

National/international charities

Give Directly: This charity allows donors to send money directly to the extreme poor in East Africa without going through a middle man. It locates these communities using publicly available data, uses independent checks to verify that recipients of its help are eligible and did not pay bribes, and transfers financial help to them directly. Its core values are efficiency, transparency, and respect. It manages money transfers end-to-end using electronic monitoring and payment technology, and also aims to optimise and expand the use of cash transfers in the realm of international development.

Chicks: This charity provides free 5-day respite breaks to disadvantaged children across the country. The children involved are often living in poverty, or are young carers for family members with physical or mental health difficulties. A CHICKS break aims to give children the chance to relax, enjoy new experiences and simply be children. It began operation in 1992, making this year its 25th anniversary, and has provided over 13,500 children with a much-needed break in this time. The breaks have a proven long-term emotional impact of greater self-esteem and confidence.

SANE: This charity aims to improve the quality of life of anyone affected by mental illness in the UK. It provides confidential emotional support to all those affected by mental health problems in the UK through its helpline, email services and online support forum. SANE is maintained by over 130 volunteers who give hundreds of hours of their free time every year. It also directly supports neuroscience research, alongside studies into treatments and therapies for mental health issues. It was the only specialist mental health charity open over Christmas and New Year.

Education Partnerships Africa: This charity aims to allow all students attending rural secondary schools across East Africa to receive a quality education. It collaborates with schools in Uganda and Kenya, investing in resources, facilities and ideas. It also sends volunteers into these schools to work with the children and empower the schools to sustain improvement. Oxford University students and alumni work at all levels of the organisation, which would like to expand its volunteering scheme to other universities.

United: This charity, founded by Oxford students in 2013, aims to make international student volunteering more effective and equitable. It finds social projects being run by Ugandan university students and connects them with peers in the UK to collaborate over the internet, as well as organising exchange visits. Since 2013, it has run 80 projects, including changing the Ugandan national curriculum around climate change; it has also organised international exchanges for 40 students. United aim to build ‘international friendships’ between students in particular because they are active in the community, easily networked and in natural hubs of innovation.

It Gets Brighter: This charity is based in Oxford but aims to end the silence about mental health worldwide. It invites everyone, including those with mental illnesses or those who have supported loved ones with a mental illness, to speak openly about their experiences. The charity hopes that its users will share what makes it brighter for them, or express their solidarity with those currently struggling with mental health issues, by collecting short video messages of hope.

SSSK (Students Supporting Street Kids): This charity aims to help street children achieve their potential by making people aware of the issues affecting them. It was founded by two students, and it raises money for projects that work with these children in Africa, Asia and South America. All of its branches are run by students and all of the money it raises goes to street child NGOs. Each of its partner NGOs has been visited by either a student or trustee to verify its legitimacy.

Against Malaria Foundation: This charity helps to protect people from malaria by funding anti-malaria nets and ensuring they are used. It also tracks and reports on net use and malaria case data. Malaria kills at least 500,000 people every year, and this charity aims to decrease this number by proving that malaria is totally preventable and treatable. The most effective means of prevention is sleeping under a mosquito net costing £2, and the charity specialises in long-lasting insecticidal nets.

Voting in the RAG Charity Ballot 2017 closes this Thursday at 6pm.

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