Univ in the Community

The College has a long tradition of charitable activity. In 1884 Jocelyn Devas, a Univ graduate started a ‘Club for working lads’ in a room over a coffee tavern in Stewarts Road, Battersea, a poverty-stricken area of London. Two years later Jocelyn was tragically killed in a climbing accident in the Swiss Alps. His father enlisted the help of Jocelyn’s friends, and funded an initiative to carry on the work that Jocelyn had started in Battersea. Devas continues to this day, having been open to girls as well as boys since 1960, and now puts more emphasis on sporting and musical activities than basic education. The College continues to have a close association with Devas as trustee and financial supporter.

Today the College is involved with a larger number of charities. It donates to a 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 the College has a number of partner charities. These are 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.

The work of our partner charities, and their close relationship to the College, are described in more detail in the navigation section of this page and regular updates of news from them, along with charitable and social initiatives from our students, will be detailed below on a rolling basis.

Partner Charity News

Devas – August 2017

Dr Radha Ramswamy visited Oxford from Bangalor in July 2017 to train a small group of Oxford based participants in the art of Augusto Boal’s "Theatre of the Oppressed" and explain the principles of her own, unique version known as  "Forum Theatre". After attending the course in Oxford, I set up a three-week project with a group of young people at the Devas club, hoping to test and develop these theatrical techniques. A fantastic core of young people at the Devas showed their expressive linguistic and physical capabilities in shaping the scenes we studied.

Throughout the project at the Devas I was lucky enough to work closely with professional dancer Daryl Baker, whose ability and enthusiasm fuelled the hybrid theatre-dance workshops we created. As we came to realise that contemporary dance was an electric extension of Boal’s doctrine of the human body as "intelligent clay", we started to translate moments in play texts into our own movement sequences. We had teenagers arguing passionately over whether or not Brutus really loved Portia, whether Lear was ultimately to blame for Regan’s (renamed Roxy) harsh treatment and how best to physically illustrate these tensions. It was a privilege to work at the Devas over the past weeks and I am delighted to consider the project far from finished.

Find out more about Devas on their Univ page here or by visiting devasclub.org


Aspire - August 2017

The Oxford Big Sleepout is back for 2017 on 7 October at the Hill End Outdoor Centre

Oxford is facing a homelessness crisis. The number of people sleeping rough is increasing dramatically year on year. At the same time, the vital work of Oxford's leading homeless charities is under greater pressure than ever before. Significant funding cuts of up to 65% is seeing charities forced to cut services, leading to more local people vulnerable to homelessness or insecure housing.

Aspire Oxford and Oxford Homeless Pathways are coming together once more to ask our friends and supporters to give up their bed for one night and help tackle homelessness in our community. Last year's sleepout event saw over 70 of us bed down for the night to raise over £24k, and we're determined to smash that for 2017. By signing up for the Oxford Big Sleepout you will be helping the most vulnerable people in our city to access secure housing, work experience, education and employment. All funds raised will be split between Aspire Oxford and Oxford Homeless Pathways.

Help local people to leave homelessness behind them for good, find out more about the Oxford Big Sleepout and sign up today here.

Find out more about Aspire Oxford on their Univ page here or by visiting aspireoxford.co.uk


Fairfull – August 2017

Inspired and energized by another dazzling British summer, we’ve spent the last few months working on our second product! We’ve been talking about it for years, but it’s finally coming! This one will be Middle-Eastern themed, inspired by a Syrian fatayer, and our profits will be used to help refugees and victims of the crisis in Syria. The snack itself is a juicy filling of spiced chicken and vegetables in a succulent dough - we developed the recipe with a chef who’s worked in the region, using ingredients originating from the region, such as barberries, Za’tar and freekeh. We’ve also been working with a Syrian artist in Beirut to create our brand artwork! We aim to launch via a crowdfund campaign around the start of term time, so keep your eyes peeled! We’re still trying to come up with a name for the product, so if you have any ideas please reach out! And for the latest news and updates follow us on social media @FairfullUK.

Find out more about Fairfull on their Univ page here or by visiting fairfull.co.uk


Devas – June 2017

Univ is coming to Devas. At Devas we know John Dineen for a really close annual football match. But this Summer he is coming to Devas in a different guise. John is running a series of theatre workshops with a group of friends during the Devas Summer Programme in August. This is a first, and one which we hope will become a regular feature.

Thanks from North Korea, or a North Korean. Yong Sim is a North Korean refugee who is a member of Devas and been studying at Harris Westminster Sixth Form College. She joined us for the annual football match. Yong Sim has just been awarded a scholarship and is hoping to study medical sciences at St George’s before eventually becoming a doctor. She says that although she is not going to Oxford her visit to Univ earlier this year was one of the most inspirational days of her life. She was spurred on to achieve the results she needed despite only arriving in England in 2014 with no command of English at all. So. The impact of Univ has been considerable, though indirect. Many thanks from Devas, and Yong Sim.

Find out more about Devas on their Univ page here or by visiting devasclub.org


Aspire - June 2017

Aspire is delighted to launch our open and inclusive recruitment offer to employers. With many businesses struggling to recruit in Oxfordshire, Aspire’s flexible recruitment services will open up the widest possible pool of talent for your workforce. This service will help employers to resolve staff shortages and increase staff retention and is an exciting opportunity for businesses to pave the way in launching inclusive recruitment.

Aspire can offer the following:

  • Guidance on how to introduce “open recruitment” in your workplace, including a free, comprehensive handbook and upcoming workshops
  • Introduce you to work-ready candidates from Aspire’s own employment development programmes
  • Match your business with candidates for whom we can offer current work experience references
  • Offer in-work support for successful candidates joining your workforce to ensure good retention rates

Free workshop dates: adopting inclusive recruitment practices: 16 August, 6 and 27 September.

For more information about our workshops or Aspire’s specialist recruitment services please email emily@aspireoxford.co.uk

Find out more about Aspire Oxford on their Univ page here or by visiting aspireoxford.co.uk


Aspire - May 2017

Aspire is launching a new event, The Oxford Big Tea Party on Friday 16th June 1-3pm at Cutteslowe Community Centre. This event is part of the Great Get Together initiative inspired by Jo Cox and will bring together eighty elderly people affected by loneliness for a special Afternoon Tea. This event will provide them with much-needed company and entertainment, supported by students and volunteers.

Oxford’s elderly people are facing a loneliness crisis. Aspire runs a Community Transport service for elderly people which is a lifeline in combating isolation and promoting independence. 92% of Aspire’s Community Transport passengers live alone and 58% would not leave their homes each week without our service. But local transport services are now under threat of closure, so this event is a call to action, to encourage us to come together on an urgent issue affecting some of the most vulnerable in our community.

We are asking businesses or clubs to support our goal by sponsoring a table at the tea party for £500, or as an individual to sponsor a place for £50. We would also welcome volunteers at the event. Please contact helen@aspireoxford.co.uk for more information - thank you.

Find out more about Aspire Oxford on their Univ page here or by visiting aspireoxford.co.uk


Univ OM - May 2017

Univ OM Herbie Knott (1968, PPE) will be joining a 145-mile London to Amsterdam cycle challenge on 9 and 10 June to raise much-needed funds for prostate cancer research.

Mr Knott – who didn’t take up cycling until he was 64 – has already raised in excess of £1,200 for Prostate Cancer UK in the lead up to the ‘Football to Amsterdam’ event, which is backed by The English Football League and the League Managers Association. Having completed nearly 7,000 miles in the saddle over the last four years, he comments on the challenge ahead: ‘I now wish to test myself to the limit to help others beat this terrible plague.’

He can be supported in his endeavour on his JustGiving page here and all at Univ wish him the very best of luck.

Find out more about Prostate Cancer UK here.        


Fairfull – April 2017

With the feedback and support of our customers (and with a special thanks to Univ’s awesome chefs Rob, Paul and Matt) we have now finalised a number of big improvements to our samosa recipe – improved filling, new pastry and a more natural egg glaze! We hope you like it! We have also changed our samosa packaging – we loved the card sleeves but they were a bit bulky and a bit pricy. The new packaging is a lot simpler; it still features the brand colours but is more compact, grab-and-go-friendly and cost effective (so now we can do more good!) We’ll be popping into college over Trinity term to hand out free-tasters, so keep an eye out for us and come and say hello! If you have any feedback or want to get in touch, we’d love to hear from you at hello@fairfull.co.uk

Find out more about Fairfull on their Univ page here or by visiting fairfull.co.uk


Devas – April 2017

The prospect of the choir or musicians from Univ working with the studios at Devas, as has been suggested in the past, may have come closer to fruition. The studio has been re-configured to make it simpler for live musicians to work with the recording booth and the sound engineer. We also have a new mixing desk which makes it easier to integrate traditional analogue with digital.

We are close also to having our own radio station and running courses on radio production. The final part of the jigsaw will be a media suite with video facilities.

The studio has recently branched out from the more usual music to produce a recording of Brexit the Musical, now expanded and updated as Brexiteers The Musical. This is a revue created by a long term supporter of Devas, David Shirreff. Univ members may remember him from his time at Oriel, before a career in financial journalism which included being the Economist’s man in Germany.  

Any Univ members, or their families, who would like to use the recording facilities would be very welcome.

Find out more about Devas on their Univ page here or by visiting devasclub.org


Aspire – April 2017

Aspire organised a ground-breaking employers' conference to tackle Oxford's recruitment crisis on Wednesday 26 April. This event brought together leading employers including John Lewis, Midcounties Co-op and Sainsbury's to discuss the benefits of recruiting from disadvantaged groups. There are thousands of people in Oxfordshire who want to work and could do so, given the right support. Aspire knows from experience how much people from disadvantaged backgrounds have to offer, and this conference was an exciting opportunity to inspire employers about more inclusive recruitment. The event was a great success, with inspirational talks from Darren Burns at Timpson, Land Securities and the Pret Foundation who could all showcase the benefits of inclusive recruitment.

Everyone attending was given a practical inclusive recruitment guide which was put together in partnership with Oxfordshire Community Foundation, the responsible business group Reciprocate and Allen Associates. Aspire was delighted to be able to put on this first-of-its-kind event for Oxfordshire as part of Responsible Business Week 2017.

Find out more about Aspire Oxford on their Univ page here or by visiting aspireoxford.co.uk


Gatehouse – April 2017

It's a busy time at the Gatehouse and we are currently experiencing 362 visits a week from people who are either homeless or vulnerably housed in Oxford City. We have seen a slight increase in female homelessness in the last quarter and 45% of people using the project are currently street homeless.

The project now has additional hot food 2.5 days a week (Tuesday, Friday and every other Sunday) which the Guests really appreciate. Our weekly literacy and art groups are still well attended and are growing and developing all the time.

Our One to One Project Worker is a new initiative and has been in post for just three months. This has enabled people to get some on-going support with a range of things including mental and physical health, employment and training, housing and welfare rights.

We are always looking for additional people who can help prepare our food every session so if you think you might be able spare some time to do this on a regular basis, please do get in touch.

We are mostly a donation led charity so a lot of our time is spent fundraising and raising awareness of the project and we are hoping for some volunteers to take part in sponsored events. If you are at all interested please do contact Kat on katrinagatehouse@gmail.com and we can help and support you through the process. Every little bit helps and because we are mostly volunteer led, a large amount of any donation goes straight into front line services.

Our community is an inclusive one so if you would like to come and visit and find out more about what we do, you would be very welcome, just contact Kat on katrinagatehouse@gmail.com

Find out more about The Gatehouse on their Univ page here or by visiting oxfordgatehouse.org


Univ - March 2017

Univ’s Head Porter, Bob Maskell, is tackling the 50mile Bike Oxford ride on Sunday 7 May in support of the OASIS Autism charity.

OASIS is a friendly charity run by parents for parents/carers who are bringing up children/young adults with Autistic Spectrum Disorder or related conditions such as Global Developmental Delay or Sensory Processing Disorder in Oxfordshire. They aim to create a supportive community through informal coffee and chat groups, evening meetings with professional speakers, subsidised courses and family play days during school holidays.

Bob says: ‘My grandson Charlie was diagnosed with Aspergers syndrome shortly before his fifth birthday.  Oasis is a huge support to my daughter and us as a family and now she is a committee member putting many hours into something she feels so passionate about.’

Find out more about Oasis here and support Bob’s charity ride via his JustGiving page here.


Univ - March 2017

For Comic Relief’s Red Nose Day College organised a ‘bake and buy’ event in hall with tea and coffee kindly provided. The sale, along with a sweepstake raised over £100 for good causes both in the UK and abroad; the cakes and pastries were divine and the company, as always, fantastic.

Thanks to Lila and Viv from the DB’s Office, the Hall staff, and the many others who helped make this happen. Thanks too goes to all those who ‘ate and gave’.

Details of Comic Relief’s work at www.rednoseday.com


Devas – March 2017

On the last weekend of February, Sunday 26, Devas played their annual match with Univ at Oxford. In recent years a history of Devas winning handsomely has been reversed, to the point of the match ending in a draw in the 2016 match.

This year Devas sent both a men’s team and a women’s team. The recent trend was again reversed, with a strong win by the Devas men’s team. The women’s team followed suit with a good win in their first ever match at Oxford. The Devas team and their coaches are anticipating that in a repeat of history the goal margins of future matches will become progressively narrower.

A particular bonus this year had been the contacts made after the match. Two members of the Devas women’s team who are qualified coaches have offered to run a coaching session at Oxford, probably next Autumn or Winter. And a proposal for a Univ led team to run drama workshops at Devas in the Summer is making real progress.

The other innovation this year was that Devas also brought a small group of Devas members whose schools are supporting their ambitions to apply for Oxford and who want to understand more about undergraduate life. This reflects a growing role of Devas supporting education as part of their work with young people in the Battersea area.

Find out more about Devas on their Univ page here or by visiting devasclub.org


Aspire – March 2017

Aspire Oxford is supporting more disadvantaged local people into employment than ever before, including young people not in education, employment or training (NEET) and refugees. The demand for our specialist employment support continues to rise and we want to ensure that we are there for everyone who needs us. We are looking for amazing people to get involved and help us transform lives. Here's how you can help:


• Become a Friend of Aspire through volunteering or by supporting us with an annual donation

• Invite us to give an inspirational presentation about Aspire’s life-changing work at your workplace, club or college

• Take on a challenge for Aspire! We have free charity places in Bike Oxford on 7 May 2017. Choose from 25, 50 or 80 miles; all cyclists will benefit from fully signed routes, timing chips, feeding stations and a finisher’s medal

For details email helen@aspireoxford.co.uk

Find out more about Aspire Oxford on their Univ page here or by visiting aspireoxford.co.uk


Devas – February 2017

On Sunday 26 February the annual Devas-Univ match will be played at Oxford and the result has been getting much closer in recent years...

Earlier in the week, on 20 February, an alumnus of both Devas and this annual match helped Sutton hold Arsenal to as close a finish as they could hope for.

Craig Eastman was a leading player while a member of Devas. After training at the Arsenal Academy he made ten first team appearances for Arsenal between 2009 and 2013; he also played for Millwall, Wycombe Wanderers and Colchester before Sutton.

On the day of the Devas-Univ match Craig joined the party as a spectator. He was still under contract to Arsenal, which restricted him from running the risk of injury by playing football with any one else. But that did not stop him from deciding to slip in as a reserve, and getting a game. The other spectator who joined in was Fredi Devas, the son of Devas trustee, Johnny Devas, who also came on for part of the match as a reserve. Fredi went on to become a wildlife filmmaker and variously a producer and director. He is probably best known for Wild Arabia, Frozen Planet and the urban episode of Planet Earth II.

It is not yet clear where the careers of this year’s players will lead them. 

Find out more about Devas on their Univ page here or by visiting devasclub.org


Fairfull – February 2017

It has been just over a month now since we relaunched our baked veggie samosas in Univ (and other sites across Oxford University.)

However, it wasn’t quite the smooth restart we’d hoped for. In the first week, every single samosa burst during baking. This wasn’t the first impression we’d hoped to make, but rather than letting the batch go to waste we provided free tasters all week and donated half the batch to our Fairfull friends at Oxford Gatehouse, Steppin' Stone The Porch, and Simon House to feed the homeless and those in need.

We fixed the bursting issue, and since then have been collecting feedback to make the product even better (and more similar to last year’s Mamaby-Samosa). From next week (28 February), our samosas will have more flavour, less chilli, and better pastry. Please let us know what you think of the changes!

If you have any feedback or want to get involved, please get in touch by emailing hello@fairfull.co.uk.

Find out more about Fairfull on their Univ page here or by visiting fairfull.co.uk


Aspire – February 2017

Aspire Oxford has been helping disadvantaged local people to get active and get healthy with incredible results! Our Active Body, Healthy Mind project uses sport to improve mental wellbeing and promote social inclusion. Here’s Rennel’s story:

‘My name is Rennel Johnson and I am not ashamed to say that I have suffered with mental health and addiction issues for a long time. I started to engage with Active Body, Healthy Mind in July 2016. The football sessions are brilliant for me; I have never been given the opportunity to play football with people in the same situation as me before.

I was asked to go on a Level 1 FA coaching course and I was over the moon! Nobody has ever believed in me like this before, and it’s really helped my confidence grow even more. I eventually hope to find employment as a football coach.

My family are so happy with me now, and I am also proud of myself. I have Aspire and Active Body, Healthy Mind to thank for this. I am now looking forward to my future for the first time in a long time!’

Find out more about Aspire Oxford on their Univ page here or by visiting aspireoxford.co.uk


Fairfull – January 2017

Food is the great leveller. Humans are united in their appetites, because everyone has to eat. But what if food could have a deliciously positive impact? What if food could be more than just a ‘stomach-filler’?

The myriad of food brands vying for a share of consumers’ stomachs is a patchwork quilt of world cuisines; everyone loves eating dishes from all over the world. But what do the people and communities where these delicious foods originate get in return? Shouldn’t Moroccan hummus benefit people in that region? Shouldn’t globalisation benefit all of us equally?

These questions drove Elina (Univ DPhil) and Adam to create Fairfull, a social venture that creates food that’s better for everyone. Their first product made its debut in Univ back in April 2016 (under the name Mamaby) – a healthier twist on an Indian classic: a baked vegetable samosa, with all profits helping expectant mothers in Indian slums. Since then the founders have outsourced production, rebranded and grown to fifteen sites across Oxford University. After an extended hiatus, their deliciously positive samosas are returning to the fridges in Univ’s Buttery. Food which reflects a local culture to feed a global one, where every mouthful really matters because it fulfils you and changes lives. That’s Fairfull.

Find out more about Fairfull on their Univ page here or by visiting fairfull.co.uk


Aspire – January 2017

Recruitment in Oxfordshire is an on-going, significant challenge for employers. In response, employment charity and social enterprise Aspire has launched Oxford’s first ever Employers’ Conference focused on recruiting disadvantaged and vulnerable groups to help meet recruitment needs. The half-day conference will be held at Unipart on Wednesday 26 April as part of Responsible Business Week. This conference will showcase the benefits of giving disadvantaged people a chance in the world of work along with testimonials from employers who have successfully trialled work placements for vulnerable groups. We’re delighted to have secured Darren Burns as a key note speaker from Timpsons, who are leading the way in socially responsible recruitment.

Aspire supports highly disadvantaged people to move towards and into employment. We know from experience that our trainees have a huge amount to offer local employers, and this conference is a fantastic opportunity to highlight the considerable benefits of giving disadvantaged people the opportunities they deserve. For more information please contact Rosa Curness on 01865 204450.

Find out more about Aspire Oxford on their Univ page here or by visiting aspireoxford.co.uk


The Gatehouse – January 2017

The Gatehouse experienced a very busy Christmas time and thanks to donations from the public, we were able to ensure that each Guest got at least one Christmas present of a hat, scarf, gloves, socks, underwear and a bar of chocolate. Often this is the only present that a person might receive. 

At the end of December we captured our quarterly data on how many people are using the project (taken over one week) and where a person slept the previous night. We are averaging 335 visits a week and our rough sleeper numbers have increased again to 49% of users. 

We are starting the year off trying to be as positive and pro-active about fundraising for the coming year as much as we can. If anybody has any fundraising ideas and would like to support a local independent project then please email katrinagatehouse@gmail.com.

Find out more about The Gatehouse on their Univ page here or by visiting oxfordgatehouse.org