Help is at hand for families facing hardship in Chippy, thanks to the work and vision of four energetic Churchill residents and the Thrive charity.
They’ve banded together to form Thrive-Northox, a new charity helping struggling parents meet their children’s basic needs for clothes, school necessities, emergency white goods, carpeting and new baby items.
Andrea Ratcliffe, Jo Hawley, Ceri Fenton and Melanie Butterworth are launching a series of fundraising activities with a view to involving local volunteers, ensuring this exciting venture expands its reach within North Oxfordshire.
Members of the Thrive team are delighted with the response they’ve had so far.
The 2016 Winterfest event staged In Churchill was a huge success, raising more than £1,500 for children living in poverty and involving a range of businesses based in Chippy and its surrounds.
Spokesperson Andrea Ratcliffe told ECN: “We want to help provide children who are doing it tough with the bare essentials many other children might take for granted. This can make all the difference to their confidence, self-esteem and ambition to be the best they can be, assisting them in breaking out of the cycle of poverty.”
We chatted with Andrea about her vision for Thrive-Northox and what’s in store for Chippy’s newest charity.
What is your role in the charity?
All four of us muck in and hold equally important roles. My main role is publicity and helping with planning and organising our fundraising events but, as I said, we all share whatever needs doing.
What need is Thrive seeking to address?
Our main aim is to be able to assist with the basic needs of our local children such as properly fitting school shoes and uniform.
These kinds of items are often a challenging expense for parents when it comes down to a choice between food or paying an overdue bill – every penny counts.
We have been told of a case where a child was having to sleep on the floor as his family could not afford a proper bed for him to sleep on.
Thrive has supplied basic, necessary new baby items for a heavily pregnant new mother who had been urgently referred to sheltered accommodation away from a violent relationship. She was desperate and had absolutely nothing for her soon to be born baby.
With the cost of living increasing, financial challenges will only worsen and Thrive has been formed to address child poverty at a local level to give our local children the best chance of breaking the cycle and becoming the best they can be.
Growing up in poverty has a significant impact on children and young people both during their childhood and beyond. Research shows that children who grow up in poverty have a greater risk of having poor health, low educational attainment and failing to reach their full potential.
According to national statistics, there were 15,660 children living in poverty in Oxfordshire in 2008, around 11.7% of all children in the area. Of these, 73% or 11,432 were in lone parent families.
The Government has renewed its commitment to ending child poverty by 2020 and the Child Poverty Act 2010 requires action to be taken both at a national and local level.
Who has been most helpful to you on your journey so far?
Our journey is just beginning but we have been embraced by our local health visitors, Parent Support Advisors in our local schools, local businesses who are supporting our Winterfest event (Chadlington Ale, Oats Health Foods, Fibreworks, and Kopyrite to name a few).
Our local Co-op supermarket have generously pledged to support us which is fantastic.
What kind of response have you had from Chippy residents?
Moved by our cause, a few individual Churchill residents have given very generous personal donations which has touched us all.
The awareness of Thrive-Northox, who we are and what we’re trying to do is revving up through publicising Winterfest and using this event as a vehicle to promote Thrive in Chipping Norton and the surrounding North Oxfordshire areas.
Are schools getting involved in your charity events?
Yes, they’ve been fantastic. We are in discussions with a few schools who have agreed to run a non-uniform day with each child asked to bring in a pound to wear casual clothes, all funds being channelled to Thrive-Northox. The schools and especially their school councils have been very receptive and supportive.
What is your ultimate goal for Thrive?
To help as many local children as possible feel confident and ensure they have a good level of self-esteem with their basic needs met. Thrive-Northox can act as a stop-gap when financial difficulties are prohibitive.
What are the challenges you face in fundraising?
Asking people for money is always challenging. But we’re a creative bunch of women and we enjoy coming up with fundraising ideas to engage local residents and businesses. Our cause has so far proved attractive to them.