As December draws to a close and Christmas edges nearer, it’s time to reflect on how successful 2018 has been for the OX7 team.
Aiming to support, help and reconnect vulnerable young people within their communities, the project actually started toward the end of September 2017, but it wasn’t until February 2018 that things really picked up, thanks to a change of approach.
This saw Activate Learning key worker Victoria McFarlane dedicated to OX7 two days a week. She finds young people who need help through referrals from schools and other agencies, as well as through friends and family.
In April the service was enhanced with the launch of the drop-in service on Thursday mornings. Anyone can visit the office (next to the Theatre box office) between 10am and 1.30pm to discuss their own situation, or that of someone they know, in complete confidence and privacy.
Banbury Young Homelessness Project (BHYP) became a key partner in July and then in August, OX7 took part in umbrella organisation ECN’s inaugural and extremely successful jobs fair in Chipping Norton’s Town Hall.
BHYP have been invaluable in helping to train young people in life and work skills and local club Soho Farmhouse is a great employer partner, particularly as they provide transport to their rural location for employees who can’t drive there.
Local supermarket Aldi has been very positive and helpful too, as have Chipping Norton School and St Mary’s Church, the team building an amazing relationship with the vicar’s wife, Emma Kennedy. Links have just been forged with Christians Against Poverty (CAP), who will be offering a life skills class to OX7 participants.
The Theatre has given invaluable help and support as has local housing association Cottsway.
Who are we helping?
The project helps those aged 16-24 who aren’t sure yet how to make their way in the world. They might not have fitted in at school or had problems in life and don’t know where to turn next.
OX7 helps them by listening, then tailoring help packages for each situation. Key worker Vic brings all her knowledge to bear in terms of the different support options in the area.
Help can encompass mentoring, life skills, extra training and, once they are ready, finding a job – it really does depend on the person.
So far the young people that have been through the doors of OX7 have gone back to education, been placed on a training or apprenticeship scheme or are in productive jobs.
Looking forward to next year
With everything now in place and working well, the OX7 team are looking forward to helping even more local young people in 2019.
They would like to thank all their partners, both organisations and individuals, who have helped deliver a successful year and wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!