University College has a long and proud tradition of charitable activity.
We donate to a wide range of charities catering for severely disadvantaged groups and neighbourhoods in the Oxford community, in particular volunteer organisations that provide food, pre-school and extra-curricular education, participation in sport and the performing arts, English-language tuition, support for the mentally disabled and transition into employment.
In addition we work with a number of partner charities whose activities have a direct impact on the College and which, in turn, the College seeks to nurture and promote as well as support financially.
Details of our four key partner charities can be found below and regular updates can be read on our Charity News page.
Established in 2001, Aspire businesses deliver commercial services across Oxfordshire, from grounds maintenance and property services to textile recycling and furniture up-cycling. These businesses come with “built-in” social impact, creating work placements and employment opportunities for local people who face barriers to securing meaningful employment. With specialist support workers to help and guide Aspire Trainees into independent, sustainable and positive futures, this also delivers savings to the Oxfordshire taxpayer of over £1m a year, reduces re-offending rates and homelessness, promotes social inclusion, and helps people move off benefits and into work.
“Aspire has benefited significantly from a positive and proactive relationship with University College, to help develop our homeless prevention activity in Oxford.” – Paul Roberts, COO (Employment & Partnerships) Aspire Oxford
Univ has numerous one-off contract requirements for cleaning, gardening, general refurbishment, and cover for maternity and long-term sickness. Aspire has provided us with their work-ready manpower for paid work experience on many occasions and we continue to explore further opportunities with them.
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Jocelyn Devas, a Univ graduate, started a “Club for working lads” above a coffee tavern in Battersea in 1884. The initial purpose was educational, but as this function was increasingly met by the London County Council’s evening classes, sporting activities began to take precedence, and a club for girls, sharing the same building, was started in 1960. Today Devas is run from its own purpose-built four-storey building in Battersea, providing a variety of activities for young people up to the age of 25. Facilities include social and art areas, a computer suite, gym, dance and recording studios and a rooftop basketball court.
From its earliest years members of Univ have taken a great interest in Devas. When new premises were built in 1889 they were formally opened by George Bradley, who had been Master of Univ in Jocelyn Devas’s time, and a succession of Old Members of the College have supported Devas either financially or by serving on its Committee of Management. The annual Devas-Univ football match is still held yearly in Oxford.
John Dinneen (2014, English) has kindly supplied a reflection on the relationship between Univ and Devas – read the PDF.
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The Gatehouse offers a warm, welcoming environment for those aged 25 or over who are homeless or poorly housed in Oxford. Open for a couple of hours each day (5-7pm weekdays and 4-6pm on Sunday) at the St Giles Parish Rooms on Woodstock Road, Gatehouse provides tea, coffee, sandwiches, fresh fruit, cake, and homemade soup during the winter months, in addition to internet access, newspapers, books, and a range of interest groups. The Gatehouse accepts people just as they are in a non-judgmental and welcoming spirit.
“Univ has been working with the Gatehouse for over a year now and supplies additional food for the Guests in term time. Univ also raises much needed funds through sponsored events and increases awareness of the project and homelessness issues in Oxford.” – Kat Horne, Director of the Gatehouse Project
Univ provides an excellent range of food for students and fellows every day of the week during term, whilst out of term feeding ever-growing summer school and conference attendees. Conscious of the waste we generate, we now send food to The Gatehouse several times a week. Additionally our students fund-raise for the charity and we work in partnership with them, and other associated organisations, to find practical solutions to a city- and country-wide problem. We cannot solve this alone, or overnight, but we can plug away every day at supporting those charities in Oxford who work in this field.
Stepping Stones was borne out of the realisation that whilst there are many thousands of charities doing fantastic work assisting the disadvantaged to rebuild their lives, often the inability of their clients to access stable, quality housing means that they can be very difficult to help longer term. Stepping Stones sources properties specifically to meet each individual charity’s needs, refurbishes them, and then maintains them on an on-going basis for the charity’s clients to live in. Stepping Stones have set themselves the goal of housing 1,000 homeless and disadvantaged people in the next seven years.
The growing relationship between Univ and the voluntary sector in Oxford has already led to individuals achieving employment. Using the resources of the colleges to do good in the city, whilst generating a financial return, can only be a good thing. – Stuart Waddington, Stepping Stones
Stepping Stones takes funds from those who have them and wish to invest ethically in order to provide interim housing opportunities for previously homeless people. Whilst charitable and ethical, the charity provides a healthy return on investment which is competitive with the returns provided elsewhere in the market. Univ aspires to introduce Stepping Stones to colleges and organisations throughout Oxford with the aim of generating sound financial and social investment in the local community on a wider basis.