Oxford empties pockets for poverty

Oxford is one of the UK’s  most charitable cities, a recent survey says.

Anti-poverty charity Action Aid carried out research, ranking each town or city based on the number of residents participating in their child sponsorship scheme. Oxford placed 16th, with its residents sponsoring 347 children in total, whilst Oxfordshire as a whole was the 17th most generous county.

To take part in the Action Aid scheme, sponsors must pledge a minimum of £15 a month. 80% goes directly to projects in the child’s country, with the remaining 20% used for campaigning.

wThe focus is on strengthening the local community, who are highly involved in deciding how it is put to use; often this includes providing access to clean water, shelter, healthcare and materials for schools.

The sponsorship money from Oxford alone topped £69,000 – enough to equip 2,300 classrooms.

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The idea of the scheme is that sponsors receive bi-annual letters as well as photos and drawings from an individual child and newsletters from the child’s community, allowing them to see more accurately how the money is used.  They may also write back to and build up a relationship with the child, with some sponsors even choosing to travel out to the regions to see firsthand the charity’s work.

The concept of individual child sponsoring, along with its status as the only international aid agency with its headquarters in the developing world, has earned ActionAid a lot of media attention, with celebrities such as Gabby Logan and Mark Watson lending their support for the charity’s official ‘Child Sponsorship Week’. Samantha Womack commented in a promotional video for ActionAid that “the smallest amount of change here will unlock their futures.”

Third-year student and former St Hilda’s Charities Rep Sarah Molloy, who has also done voluntary work for ActionAid through her involvement in Oxford RAG, commented “ActionAid does a brilliant job in continuing the fight against poverty, and I also think it is very good of the charity to provide recognition of the donations of the public.”

Will Duncan, President of the Oxford Hub, a focal point for charitable work in Oxford, said: “I think that it is wonderful to see people participating in charities for many reasons.

While the average number of students in the UK that volunteer is relatively low, it is growing and Oxford University has been ahead of that curve for a few years. To have students involved in charities is a wonderful thing because there are numerous studies that show the habits developed in college can continue to carry on throughout life so developing a way of life that involves giving back now is encouraging.”

For more details, visit actionaid.org.uk