Aspire Summer Newsletter 2023

Welcome to Aspire’s summer newsletter for 2023! We’ve got some fantastic updates to share with you since our last newsletter - but first, a request for your help.

You have likely seen that Oxfordshire is facing major problems on two key fronts - a lack of affordable housing, and a shortage of workers in the job market

The lack of affordable housing is contributing to overcrowding in the county, which negatively affects people’s ambitions, relationships, job prospects and mental health. It also means the number of people renting privately - and subsequently at risk of eviction and facing homelessness - is on the rise.

The labour market shortage means businesses aren’t able to hire, grow and support their local economy - despite the fact there are many people in Oxfordshire looking for jobs who want to contribute their skills and experience in return for well-paid, secure employment.

These problems are serious, but not inevitable - and as a community, we have the ability to make a difference. Aspire is now committed to taking urgent action to inspire hope for Oxfordshire, through “Action Inspires Hope”, the match-funded appeal we have launched to accompany our ambitious programme of activity to respond to the desperate circumstances people across our communities are facing.

What is Aspire going to do?

With match-funding in place from a local donor, every pound donated to our appeal will be doubled up to £250,000. If successful, this campaign will transform Aspire’s capacity to tackle empty homes, land and the labour market shortage - and help to ensure our team has the financial stability we need to sustain the personalised support we know can make a difference, long-term.

Digital Inclusion and Employment Support for Refugees in Oxfordshire

We're working with SOFEA Didcot to deliver the ‘No Limits’ community employment development project across Oxfordshire on behalf of the Oxfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (OxLEP). We’re able to provide a comprehensive menu of person-centred support to people aged 16+ in the county at risk of being held back by the detrimental effects of the pandemic and cost of living crisis, including digital inclusion support through joint working with the Getting Oxfordshire Online initiative.

Hanna’s story

Hanna is a Ukrainian refugee who recently moved to Oxfordshire, finding herself starting from scratch in the UK. Focusing on studying English, making connections and finding work, Hanna was supported by Aspire to access a smartphone and wi-fi through the No Limits project’s partnership with Getting Oxfordshire Online, which have proved crucial for areas such as translation and her job search.

Abi’s story

Abi is also a refugee, having previously faced homelessness while his asylum application was under review. Once housed in shared accommodation with some financial support and a right to work, Abi was eager to find a role in the care sector to continue his home country career. Through the No Limits project, Abi was supported by Aspire to access a mobile phone and laptop from Getting Oxfordshire Online, and undertake English, Maths and further care sector training.

Both participants have been supported by Aspire’s Employment & Development Worker, Nataliia, who also came to Oxfordshire as a refugee in May 2022. Nataliia recently celebrated her one-year anniversary working with Aspire, and is now helping other Ukrainians in Oxfordshire with employment support.

Hear from Nataliia on her experience with Aspire to date:

"I am a trained psychologist, and wanted to find a meaningful job close to my heart as soon as possible on arrival in the UK. I am grateful to the inclusive recruitment team at Aspire for believing in me and giving me the chance to join their team as Candidate Resourcing Lead, where I was also able to learn more about British culture - especially in relation to work - and found that I could access a Continuing Professional Development (CPD) fund for my English language test (IELTS), and support from Aspire to cover my exam fees.

I later joined the No Limits programme as a Community Employment Support Worker, and volunteered with LandAid on a pilot project as a translator and support worker, to help other Ukrainians make positive steps toward the British labour market. With greater need for Ukrainian refugee support, I then joined the Homes for Ukraine employment support project as a Refugee Employment Support Worker to provide dedicated support to Ukrainians seeking help in Oxfordshire, in partnership with Asylum Welcome and Oxfordshire County Council.

I passed my English language (IELTS) exam and this, alongside building on my English over the last year, has enabled me to start the process of registering as a Practitioner Psychologist. I have also secured an unconditional offer to study an MA in Refugee Care at Essex University later this year. I’m proud to have worked so hard to achieve these outcomes - and grateful to Aspire for supporting me to achieve them!"

Some notable efforts to celebrate


In May, our social prescribing group took on Mount Snowdon, raising over £400 for Aspire through their climb - well done Team Aspire!

The social prescribing support offering at Aspire provides opportunities for individuals or existing project clients to get active and connect with others through fitness and wellbeing activities, to build confidence, improve communication skills, develop positive social networks, reduce isolation and boost mental and physical health. More information can be found here

On the topic of taking advantage of the good weather to tackle a challenge and fundraise, in June our friends at Savills Oxford completed a sponsored walk from their office in central Oxford to the Blenheim Estate, raising over £2,200 through the trek alone, with the longest route an incredible 26 miles!

From a sponsored cycle to a music night, or a sleepout to asking friends and family to donate in celebration of your special occasion, there are so many ways to get creative while making a real difference this summer. For example - the fantastic students of St Helen and St Katharine school recently raised over £8,500 in aid of Aspire, through home clothes days, sports day ice lolly sales, fundraising on St Kate’s day, a charity dinner and even a charity play!

Other ways to support Aspire this summer

  • Set up a regular gift with Aspire
  • Volunteer with Aspire to get to know your local community, build knowledge, skills and experience, be part of a team and make a real difference
  • Nominate Aspire as your chosen charity, and get your team involved with our journey
  • Leave a gift to Aspire in your will