Gannett Foundation is really making a difference

Oxford Mail Editor Simon O'Neill

Oxford Mail Editor Simon O'Neill

First published in News

CHARITIES, groups and other good causes have a chance to win up to £10,000 through the Oxford Mail for good works in their community. A total of about £20,000 will be given away this year by our parent company Gannett Media through its charitable arm, the Gannett Foundation. Groups can apply online or by post for upwards of £5,000 for any project which brings lasting benefit to the community. Reporter Pete Hughes found out from previous winners what a difference the foundation has made

OXTALK is a charity that provides “talking newspapers” to about 100 people in Oxford and the county.

Running since 1979, last year the charity began taking steps to bring it into the digital age, with a little help from the Gannett Foundation.

Trustees bid for and won £3,000 to buy 200 USB sticks to send weekly mp3 newspapers out to clients.

Trustee Anne Ambler said for the charity, which spends an average £1,000 a year, the grant “absolutely” made a difference.

She said: “These days, groups can’t get enough money.

“There are so many pressures on people’s income, giving to charity isn’t the easiest thing to do.

“Most charities, unless they apply to foundations like Gannett, find it difficult to continue.

“It was very good for us.”

Oxford Mail:

From left, Geoffrey and Anne Ambler of OxTalk with Jean Cambray holding an ‘orb’ which their new memory sticks plug into

Oxtalk even had a little money left over after buying the USB sticks, and bought several more permanent mp3 players which double as digital radios.

Mrs Ambler, whose husband Geoffrey is also a trustee, said: “We spend about £1,000 a year on rent and organising meetings, so when we need new equipment we need to ask for help.

“It is very worthwhile applying.”

The Gannett Foundation is offering donations of between about £5,000 and £10,000 to any project which brings lasting benefits to its community.

In 2010, The Didcot, Abingdon and Wantage Talking Newspaper (DAWN) received £6,848, also to begin recording newspapers onto USB flash drives.

Other previous winners include Oxford’s Yellow Submarine, which supports people with special needs, and received £10,800 in 2012.

Oxford Mail Editor Simon O’Neill said: “We support those registered charities with projects which take a creative approach to fundamental issues such as education and neighbourhood improvements, economic development, youth development, local problem-solving, assistance to disadvantaged or disabled people, environmental conservation and cultural enrichment.

“We value projects that bring lasting benefits to communities served by our local newspapers and websites.

“While preference may be given to ideas which create a durable legacy for the community, we will consider single events or projects of limited duration that otherwise meet our criteria.”

He added: “We entertain applications of any size or ambition, though typically our grants are made for substantial projects which require and merit awards of between £5,000 and £10,000.

“We will consider much more modest applications as well, but we actively encourage adventurous projects on a larger scale.

“We are able to join with other contributors to support elements of larger projects, though we prefer to be in a position of making a donation which will fund a project entirely or which constitutes the final instalment to complete a project.”

Applications are open until 5pm on Friday, September 12.

Download an application form


Oxford Mail:

From left, chairman of the trustees of Children in Touch Dr John Richer, headteacher Rachel Crouch, base coordinator Sue Saville, Sue Fairchild and Alex Rosenwasser, nine, in the new sensory garden at St Nicholas School

LAST year the Gannett Foundation also awarded £9,000 to the Children in Touch charity, which supports the study, development and well-being of children and adults with autistic spectrum conditions (ASC) and their families.

The charity used its grant to complete the building of a garden at St Nicholas School in Marston, Oxford.

Oxford’s Helen and Douglas House Hospice was also awarded £9,662, which it used to update equipment, most of which is used by patients every day, including a new drugs trolley.


Oxford Mail:

Children playing on Blackbird Leys Adventure Playground

BLACKBIRD Leys Adventure Playground (BLAP) is able to entertain 40 children after school every day, all thanks to the Gannett Foundation.

The playground, on the corner of Blackbird Leys Road and Cuddesdon Way, was brought back to life in 2011 thanks to a £6,590 grant from the foundation.

It had been closed for two years and was facing permanent closure when estate resident Sue Price applied for a grant. Since then it has transformed, and this summer has seen up to 60 children a day at its four-week play scheme.

Mrs Price, 68, secretary to the management committee, said: “It came around just at the right moment.

“The Gannett Foundation was the most amazing help, it allowed us to restart. There had been no committee and just one woman, Penny Wood, was on the committee.”

She managed to pull together a committee of 10, while Mrs Price applied for funding.

They won their bid, and were able to give the old play equipment a fresh coat of paint and employ their first play worker.

Since then, she said things have just got better and BLAP now has more children than ever.

She said: “I would recommend it, it was very straightforward to apply.”


WITH £10,800 from the Gannett Foundation, Yellow Submarine was able to open its Park End Street cafe, now the second-highest rated cafe on

The charity uses the cafe to give disabled youngsters invaluable work experience, and many go on to get jobs there.

Gannett awarded the grant in December 2012, and the cafe celebrated its first birthday in March this year.

Oxford Mail:

From left, Rose Rokhim, Emma Hellyer, Jacki Flower, Caroline Weston, Toby Satveley, Sean Parsloe and Anthony Langdon

Activity leader Kate Sankey, 27, said: “It has made a real difference to Yellow Submarine to have the cafe.

“It gives us much more of a presence in the local community just by having a place on the high street.

“It has also given young people who come for experience so much more confidence.

“We were and still are most grateful for the support from the Gannett Foundation and the Oxford Mail.”

Charity manager Toby Staveley seconded her support. He said: “People should really go ahead and apply, it has been really great for us.”


The Trustees will not fund:

  • Salaries, professional fees or day-to-day running or maintenance costs
  • General appeals as opposed to specific projects
  • Projects that do not bring benefits to local communities
  • Political or religious organisations
  • State or privately-run schools (other than special needs) or hospitals (other than hospices).



Each application will be judged on its own merits at the absolute discretion of the trustees, whose decision is final.

Applications must be submitted on the approved application form, which can be downloaded at gannettfoundation Any applications which do not meet our criteria or which do not follow our rules and procedures will be rejected. Charities must also submit their most recent financial accounts.

This year’s deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday, September 12.

The completed form and supporting document can be emailed to or sent to Gannett Foundation Applications, Newspaper House, Osney Mead, Oxford, OX2 0EJ.

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