FUNDRAISERS put their ideas to the test in a Dragons’ Den-style event to win funds for their inspiring projects.

And in the sixth year of the event, teams from Full Circle, Justice in Motion, Jacari and One Eighty netted £16,000 for their efforts.

Members from the four Oxford charities pitched for six minutes at The Funding Network’s event on Thursday evening and were thrilled with the results.

The Network’s 60 keen donors waited with bated breath while each fundraiser pledged.

There was a nervous atmosphere but the crowd rippled into applause once each charity had spoken.

And audience members were delighted to help charity members speak on, applauding Full Circle for shouting “Granny Rocks” at the end of the presentation.


Kathleen Mulligan and Rebekah Sammut of Full Circle at the Dragons’ Den event for charities

The team from Jacari received £4,000 from the audience, while fundraisers from One Eighty received £3,000.

Justice in Motion took home £2,000 from the event, and pitched alongside the team from Full Circle who scooped £4,050.

Extra funds were also pledged from private donors after the event, which was heralded a huge success by organisers.

Karen Millen, from the Funding Network, said: “We were delighted to see the Oxfordshire community once again support our innovative live crowdfunding event.

“Attendees were so generous in their support of the four fantastic local organisations all working on the front line to solve pressing social problems.’’ Once the pledges had been made, the bidding began. Excitement filled the room as people matched each other’s bids to propel the money raised for the charities ever higher.


Jane Harris of Aspire

Organisers joked the night had been a “binge give” as the pledges, which were put on a spreadsheet in front of the audience, rose and rose before our eyes.

And organiser Sue Raikes, 61, was delighted with the turnout at this year’s event. She said: “It was a great evening and there were some fabulous projects. We give people a chance to find out about projects that come from Oxford.”

Her partner Adrian Moyes, 80, from Eynsham, kept watch on the time, making sure each charity spoke only for six minutes.

He aims to give 10 per cent of his income to charity. Now retired, he said: “I got interested in the Funding Network in London and I was so enthusiastic, I carried all my fundraising over to the network.

“This seems a much better way. If you try to raise money in the street, you are trying to get people who are not in the giving mood. But here, we are in the right mood.

“It is really rewarding. I just like the idea that I know where my money is going.”

Last year’s Oxford Gives event was attended by 100 people and saw the charities COIN, My Life My Choice, Arts at The Old Fire Station and Aspire Oxford, each taking between £4,000 and £5,800.

Arts at the Old Fire Station, a social enterprise offering performances, exhibitions and support for emerging artists and the homeless, received £5,087.

Charities must have an annual turnover of less than £500,000 to take part in the event.

Jane Harris, 42, from Cumnor Hill, was part of a group from Aspire who received funding from the event last year and demonstrated the charity’s funky furniture on the night.

She said: “The funding allowed us to employ a specialist tutor and also explore design ideas. The bench was made from recycled materials.

“These events are really important. Most charities work not in isolation, but more independently. It is important to go out and also to realise there are a lot of people who are really supporting you.”

She has since joined the Oxford team of the Funding Network and added: “We are always looking for more volunteers. You don’t have to be rich to come here.”

Performance artists Neil Spokes and Steve Larkin received funding from the network in 2008 and thrilled the crowd with their performance poetry.

They have developed an act called Cyc de Soleil, where they power the sound system and lights by pedalling on a bike.

The poets from Hammer & Tongue attended the event and demonstrated their bike. Mr Larkin, 37, from East Oxford, said he could not wait for the duo to power more events in the future with their invention.

Mr Spokes, 43, from Waterperry said: “The Funding Network gave us a fighting chance. When we first came here we just had a bike stand and it was these people with the vision.”

The Charities

THEY bring the young and old together to share memories and hobbies in Oxfordshire.
Charity Full Circle works with 19 schools across the county giving youngsters the chance to chat with the older generation and learn about the community.
Manager Rebekah Sammut, 41, from Wheatley, said: “We bring old and younger people together and the aim is to generate understanding and respect across the communities.
“We do arts and crafts and sometimes the older volunteers will bring something in to share. It benefits both the children and the older people. They can feel like they are helping in some way.”
The charity, which is based in Donnington Community Ventre, pitched for funding for new classes in Blackbird Leys and hopes their sessions will help young and old.
Grandmother and mother-of-two Kathleen Mulligan, 74, from Headington, spoke of how much enjoyment she has had with the charity.
She lives with her husband John and has two children, Judith and Richard, and a granddaughter Tenelle, 10.
She said: “It has helped me to get to know the younger generation. When I joined about five years ago, I had no younger generation in my family and I had no idea of how the younger generation works these days.
“You build up a relationship with them. We play games; we do crafts and sometimes read books. We sing songs that we had when we were younger. We teach them about the things we used to do. We talk to them about growing up in the war, which is a completely alien concept to them.”
Mrs Mulligan studied hotel management and catering at Oxford Technical College, and then worked as a VIP chef in the Air Force.
She added: “Three years ago, a granddaughter came into the family. She is 10 years old, so the same age as some of the children that I worked with at Full Circle.”
The grandmother joked that if it wasn’t for the charity, she would never have heard of One Direction. She has since got autographs from the hit boy band and stars of talent show X Factor for her granddaughter, who replied: “Granny rocks.”

THEY hope to inspire and educate young people on the fringes of society.
And 26-year-old Johnny Latham was keen to work with disadvantaged children following his own difficulties in childhood.


Johnny Latham and Muqadas Ul-Hassan

Mr Latham from Oxford said: “One of the main reasons I got involved was I experienced a real life change.
“I was able to learn key skills that I didn’t have before. It is worth passing these skills on.”
The charity works with 33 schools across the community, offering sessions with young people up to the age of 16 to help them turn their lives around.
Mr Latham added: “People seem really interested and they had questions and they really wanted to know about the charity.”
He was excited to take part in the event and hoped the funds raised would help the charity expand.



WHEN Micaela Tuckwell, above,  first met sisters Asmaa, 10, and Isra Gafar, 14, the girls struggled to communicate at school.
But after a year of one-to-one tuition with the Jacari tutor, the sisters from Sudan had more confidence.
Jacari was launched in 1956 as the Joint Action Committee against Racial Intolerance and now runs one-to-one sessions with pupils from across the city helping them with their English.
There are about 260 volunteers who teach 300 children each week at the charity, which is based in Oxford’s Turl Street Kitchen.
Jacari’s co-ordinator Miss Tuckwell said: “It started off as a students’ group inviting speakers to talk about issues around racism.
“We recruit and train volunteers from Oxford University and Oxford Brookes to become home tutors for kids who are struggling at school, because they might speak English as a second language. That is for a minimum of one academic year.
“To have a volunteer to go around every week and have a good relationship – that’s one of the most important things about Jacari.”
She started off as a volunteer while studying English Literature at Oxford Brookes. She graduated in 2013 and has since gone on to work with the charity.
She added: “The first year, I was matched up with a little girl called Asmaa from Sudan. She was quite shy. In the second year, I was working with her and her older sister. I got to know them really well and feel part of the family. It was wonderful.”
The 27-year-old from Jericho hopes the charity will help more children through crafts and practical sessions.

Justice in Motion
ACTORS hope that dance and theatre shows will bring human rights issues into the public domain.


The physical theatre company Justice in Motion was set up by 32-year-old Anja Meinhardt, above, to encourage people to think about social injustice.
The Iffley Road actress said: “We focus on raising awareness about social injustice and human rights.
“I have been passionate about human rights for a long time, but never knew how to make a difference. Over the last few years, I thought why not use my skills in arts and performance to create an impact.”
The team has put on performances of Bound, a performance about human trafficking, and hopes to use the funding to work with more charities.
There are three performers in the group, which is based in Oxford.
Filmmaker Tom Wilkinson, 31, from Grandpoint, also attended the event and hoped to work on making films about the issues.

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