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    College staff dedicate day to helping local communities and charities

    Over 200 staff from Abingdon & Witney College have volunteered for charities and community projects as part of their working day on Thursday July 11th.

    The Community Outreach Day initiative originated from college staff to help the communities in which the College is embedded.

    Staff were encouraged to put themselves forward as team leaders and suggest charities and projects close to their hearts, leading to eight initiatives being identified and eligible to sign up for.

    This included a CPR and defibrillator training day led by staff in Witney and a five-a-side football tournament in Abingdon. The former initiative is part of a wider campaign in partnership with the British Heart Foundation, to raise awareness and fund to get defibrillators installed at each of the College’s main campuses, to serve staff, students and the surrounding communities.

    Over £100 was raised on the day, with proceeds coming in from donations and a tombola raffle.

    The football tournament saw teams representing their chosen charities to battle it out for a donation prize pot split amongst the winner and runners up. In the end, the Business and Enterprise department were crowned champions, winning the top prize of £40 for The Change Foundation. Nearly £100 was raised in total for represented charities, including SCOPE and Sobell House.

    Away from the campuses, a work party of 8 staff travelled to Boundary Brook in Oxford to help Oxford City Council and the Oxford Urban Wildlife Group with conservation in the area. This included site clearing to help restore and re-purpose an outbuilding, cutting back bracken to widen paths for visitors, and coppicing small trees to let in more light for other species of plants.

    College staff also joined forces with Against Breast Cancer, a charity based in Abingdon, to help with organizing and selling donated items. Caroline Stilwell, a Student Support Coordinator at the College and team leader for this project, said: “I chose Against Breast Cancer as they are a small local charity trying to push forward research into a vaccine for secondary breast cancer. They receive no government funding and are all donation funded.

    Having come from a background of community support before joining the College, I supported through my care role breast cancer fighters and those going through treatment, so have first-hand knowledge of the effect on not only the person diagnosed but on the wider family and friends.

    This cancer is silent on the whole and can strike anyone of any gender or ethnicity thus the thought of a vaccine to hold it at bay or cure is nothing but a dream, but one that may not be far away due to the research scientists this organisation has managed to fund.”

    Back at the Witney campus, and staff were busy organizing clothing, homeware and food donations for the Homes 4 All charity, who aim to alleviate the misery of homelessness. Drop-in sessions were also held, including CV writing support, resilience and wellbeing workshops, and over £200 was raised overall.

    Also in Witney, a traditional summer fete was held at Moorlands Community Day Center for local elderly and disabled adults. Over 40 people attended to take part in a range of activities, including lucky dip, live music, splat the rat, hand massages, treasure map, and name the teddy.

    Dolores Driscoll, who arranged the fete, said: “We chose this community center as they have been very supportive to our students this year, offering work experience for several of our students.

    It was amazing working with such lovely people, especially 80+ year-old Millie who got up and boogied with the lovely (and lively) Laura, and Adam who wanted to make sure his name was on everything! By the end of the day we had made more than 40 elderly adults and adults with disabilities very happy.

    The center really appreciated it and have asked us to come back next year as they enjoyed it so much – by the end of the day we were buzzing! This was our turn to give something back.”

    Over at the Yellow Submarine Café in Oxford, staff got involved in building kitchen cabinets, painting freezers to look like cows, distributing leaflets and supporting the traineeship classes.

    And finally, the College’s Hair & Beauty department have an established relationship with Sovereign Housing Residential Care Homes, having brought students into the care homes to provide activities and spend time with the elderly residents. This time, it was the staff who volunteered their time in Grove and Marcham, providing mini manicures, Indian head massages, hair styling and indoor bowls.

    Di Batchelor, Principal and CEO at the College, said: “By being so involved with the local communities that we’re a part of, it means we’re able to give our staff the opportunity to do something amazing and volunteer for great causes. The staff benefit, people’s lives benefit, and the communities we are committing to helping in some way also benefit.

    It was inspiring to see colleagues really getting stuck in and organizing some fantastic projects. This is the first time we have tried the Community Outreach Day and judging from the feedback we’ve had, it was a great success and we’ll be certainly looking at doing this again next year!”

    July 2019

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