Powerhouse first anniversary
Published on 28 October 2022
As we draw closer to the first anniversary of the launch of The Didcot Powerhouse Fund, we reflect on the key achievements accomplished to date and report back with some of the 2022 grant recipients.
Set up and run by volunteers, the Powerhouse Fund provides a centralised place for companies who want to support key causes in the local community. Through the fund, donations are added together to form larger grants and are distributed to local groups by the Grants Panel, made up of individuals with strong local knowledge, keen to help those most in need.
It has been able to support 17 local organisations by giving out a total of £95,000 in grants during its first full year of operation. This is thanks to the generosity of its donors which include Ipsen, Evotec, Hachette and CTS.
The donor-advised fund was set up by Didcot First and other founding members, including Milton Park, to tackle inequality and deprivation within the Didcot Garden Town Area of Influence, covering Didcot and the surrounding local villages. In 2022, over 31 local charities and organisations applied for grants totalling over £230,000 which showed the need in Didcot and the wider area.
Grant recipient updates
Following the grants received in 2022, promoting the theme of “Supporting children, young people and families as we emerge from the pandemic”, we caught up with three local charities to better understand the positive impact they’ve had for the local community.
Great Western Park based, GWP Baby & Toddler Group has used its Powerhouse Fund grant to run sessions during the school holidays, giving young children some continuity and a space to develop their social engagement abilities which have been affected by various lockdowns. So far, they have reached 90 children under the age of five and 60 parents and carers with responses to the sessions, exceeding their hopes and expectations.
Claire, a mother who lives on GWP in Didcot, shared: “We really enjoy coming to this friendly group. Having a group that runs during the holidays also helps keep my two boys in the routine of mixing with other children whilst they are not in childcare/ nursery. My older son did not play with other children for nine months during the pandemic as we were shielding so being able to come to this group really helps improve his confidence and social skills.”
Helping to support children in their last year of primary school with the transition to secondary school, Abingdon DAMASCUS Youth Project has been holding focused interventions for selected individuals considered to be at a higher risk of poorer transitions or negative peer relations.
As echoed by Dr Rita Atkinson, Chair of Abingdon DAMASCUS, changing school is a big step for all children but it can be an especially hard time for those from small villages or areas of deprivation who are more vulnerable.
Throughout their workshops this summer, Abingdon DAMASCUS has been empowering young people from villages such as Milton, Steventon, Appleford and Sutton Courtenay, to talk about their hopes and fears about the school transition and helping to build confidence, leadership and positive relationships in the lead up to the start of the new school year. Since September, the children have been meeting regularly with their youth workers to talk through any issues and been invited to weekly drop-in sessions to discuss topics such as mental health, sexuality, healthy relationships and substance abuse.
The Abingdon Bridge project received a Powerhouse grant to support a brand-new initiative, aiming to empower minds and fuel greater resilience in young people aged 13 years and upwards from Didcot and surrounding villages. In the first three months, the project has delivered 76 counselling sessions, engaged 46 young people across five workshops and established six wellbeing drop-ins.
An 18-year-old from Didcot, shared: “I had almost given up hope, after leaving school last September. I’ve only ever left my house twice, I really struggle to go out and during the lockdown I just got used to being on my own, I guess my bedroom became my safe place. I spent six months on the waiting list for CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) and just when I was giving up hope my GP recommended I speak to The Abingdon Bridge. I was very nervous to begin with I didn’t really want to go. After a few sessions things started to click in place for me and I realised how much anger and sadness I had within me.
“With further counselling I slowly built up my confidence and I started to expand my safe zone to various other places, and I tried to do new things. I went to my first job interview two weeks ago, had a call back the day after and they’ve offered me an apprenticeship.”
Gary Hibbins, CEO at The Abingdon Bridge, gave his thanks: “I want to thank all the donors and stakeholders for your support. You have funded a project that supports people to become the captain of their own ship and equip them with the skills needed to make positive life choices and gives them the hope to reach their full potential.”
To see more updates from other grant recipients, please visit www.didcotpowerhousefund.co.uk/impact
Fundraising at Milton Park
As a Quantum Donor of the Powerhouse Fund and with three members on the Advisory Group, the Milton Park team has been holding various events throughout the year to help raise further funds in addition to those donated by Milton Park to be put towards next year’s grants.
Fundraising efforts over the year include a wreath-making workshop at the end of 2021, hanging basket workshops, and visits from local food vendors to Milton Park occupiers to celebrate National Hot Dog and Ice Cream Days and National Curry Week, raising a combined total of £3,175.
As the Powerhouse Fund moves forward to support vulnerable local people during the current cost of living crisis, the theme for 2023 is “Supporting Mental Health & Wellbeing in these Times of Hardship”. Applications for 2023’s grants open in January.
Philip Campbell, Commercial Director at MEPC Milton Park, said: “The theme of next year’s fund ‘Supporting Mental Health & Wellbeing in these Times of Hardship’ is particularly relevant in the current climate. The most vulnerable local families in particular are deeply affected by the cost-of-living crisis and its impact on their quality of life. The Powerhouse Fund can help to alleviate some of the pain that they are experiencing through support for local charities working on mental health issues within communities.
“We’re grateful to those who have already contributed to the Powerhouse Fund and we would welcome contributions from new corporate donors.”
If your company would like to become a corporate donor, then please contact firstname.lastname@example.org