A COMMUNITY group formed three years ago to reduce carbon dioxide emissions in Oxford has been named as Oxfordshire’s charity of the year.

Low Carbon West Oxford received the award at an awards ceremony last night at North Oxford Golf Club to honour the best of the county’s community groups.

The awards, run by Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action (OCVA), attracted more than 100 nominations, with The Oxford Times acting as media partner.

Low Carbon West Oxford (LCWO), a community-led initiative that won the top award, was set up in the wake of the July 2007 floods.

The group set itself the target of reducing local carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, encouraging residents to live more sustainably, and contributing to a more cohesive and resilient community.

LCWO works in partnership with West Oxford Community Renewables (WOCR), which last year was awarded £800,000 by the Government to fund green community projects, after being named among 22 winners in the Low Carbon Communities Challenge, run by the Department for Energy.

The judges at the Oxfordshire awards said: “LCWO is an excellent example of residents taking positive action locally in response to a global problem which has had a real impact on their local community.

“Their achievements are also real. For example, as a result of their first Low Carbon Living Programme over 140 tonnes of CO2 was cut by the 36 participating households, representing an incredible cut of 36 per cent in one year.

“LCWO has also cut an estimated 80 tonnes of CO2 emissions by introducing three car club cars, used by around 170 people. The group has also been responsible for planting about 640 new trees.”

The charity was praised for its success in mobilising people in West Oxford to take part, with about 40 per cent of households already involved in some way.

The Oxford Food Bank, which recently celebrated its first birthday, was named the new group of the year. The group has distributed £100,000 worth of food to needy groups in the city,.

The food is sorted at its depot in West Oxford before being taken to hostels for the homeless, soup kitchens, charities for people with mental difficulties, and a ‘sure-start’ children’s project among others.

The Launton Plotters landed the greenest group award. The allotment group began with a voluntary committee of five people last year. Within months they had negotiated land with a local farmer to map out 70 plots. Launton Primary and Bardwell Special School were donated plots to help meet their curriculum, including healthy eating and community liaison.

The award for under-25s went to the student-run charity Jacari, which provides home teaching for children living in Oxford who do not speak English as their first language.

Oxfordshire Community Foundation won the community impact award. The organisation supports groups working in the arts, sport, disabled, elderly and refugees. Since it was started in 1995, the foundation has made grants totalling £2.5m to 750 organisations across Oxfordshire.

The fundraising campaign award went to Project Inspire, the charitable trust set up to create a village hall within Fernham.

Other winners were Refugee Resource, which won the use of volunteers award and Oxfordshire County Council Waste Management, which won the statutory organisation award.

A lifetime achievement was presented to the Bullingdon Disabled Club.

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