Several local charities gathered at Bicester Village for a champagne reception to celebrate receiving an award from a fund focused on empowering women.

Bicester Community Fridge, Friends of Bardwell School, Open Doors Community Cafe and Bicester Athletics Club were among the 14 charities awarded up to £4,000 to support the vital work they do in the Bicester community.

Bicester Advertiser: Charity winners of the Unlock Futures Fund at a celebration at Bicester Village

The 2023 Unlock Futures Fund awarded a total of £44,000 with the judging panel looking for projects that truly add value to the Bicester community and that focus on one of three themes; empowering women, unlocking futures for young people and supporting mental health and wellbeing.

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The successful applicants cover a broad range of community causes from young people to the elderly and include a number of mental wellbeing programmes as well as special sports and educational charities.

Bicester Village Community Manager Lucy Busby said: “The Unlock Futures Fund complements our ongoing community programme and is a great way to support initiatives we may never have known about. “Each year we are humbled by the amazing work our local charities do and it is a privilege to be able to thank the wonderful people who really do make a difference in our town.”

During the evening all the guests, including Marjorie Glasgow, Lord Lieutenant of Oxfordshire, visited the Do Good pop up which opened on September 6 in support of the Women for Women charity. They enjoyed hearing about the work of the charity while browsing pre-loved, vintage and designer items on sale. From September 21 Smart Works will take over the boutique with all monies raised going to their cause of supporting 10,000 women a year by 2025.

Kate Stephens, CEO of Smart Works, said: “At the heart of Smart Works is the belief that fashion can be used as a force for good.

“We know that when a woman looks and feels great about who she is, she can change her life. We are proud to have worked with Bicester Village and have raised over £300,000 to support unemployed women to get the job and transform their lives.

“Our partnership highlights the success of a community coming together to enable women and girls to succeed.

“This will be our third DO GOOD pop-up at Bicester Village and the money raised will be vital in helping us achieve our mission to double the number of women we’re supporting and help 10,000 women a year by 2025.”


The full list of Unlock Futures Fund charity recipients 2023 included Bicester Athletic Club, Bicester Community Fridge, Bicester Green, Bicester Widows & Widowers, Bure Park Disability Football Club, Cherwell Collective CIC and Citizens Advice North Oxfordshire. 

It also included Community Albums, Connection Support, Farmability, Fed Coffee CIC, Free Legal Advice Group for Domestic Violence, Friends of Bardwell School, Hygiene Bank Bicester and Kingsmere Residents Association.

And finally, Open Doors Community Cafe, Oxfordshire Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre and Seesaw also received funds.


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This story was written by Matthew Norman, he joined the team in 2022 as a Facebook community reporter.

Matthew covers Bicester and focuses on finding stories from diverse communities.

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