In these pages you can find a wide range of information to support volunteering and community action- use the menu on the right to navigate

Why volunteer?

  • make a difference: engage with something worthwhile
  • feel better: improve health and well-being through meaningful social contact
  • move on: enhance your career prospects, try something new

Volunteering tips

  • do something you love
  • try something new
  • be realistic in terms of the amount of time you can give and what you are willing and able to do
  • start small, do not over-commit yourself at the beginning

Attracting Unusual Suspects

This toolkit is a result of three workshops – Attracting Unusual Suspects– organised by CFO in November 2017 and February 2018.

The objectives of the workshops were to identify issues facing community action groups in getting people involved in positions of responsibility and discuss strategies for encouraging people to get involved.

Over 120 people attended and you can read the report here.

From the workshops, a small group was formed to oversee production of a Toolkit. It won’t be the answer to all your queries and concerns but hopefully will give you some ideas how to keep your community vibrant and active.

Doing things differently in action.  Celia Collett from Brightwell cum Sotwell Community shop acted on the suggestions and gained new volunteers – result! See her story

The whole Toolkit can be downloaded. Or you can browse by section:

We are going to run some new workshops designed to support people who wish to get more involved in their community. We can come to your community to work with a group of people wanting to do something or you can attend a session as an individual.

Keep an eye out for an event coming near you soon, or get in touch:
[email protected] 

Different ways to volunteer

1. Register

Register as a volunteer with Volunteer Centre Oxfordshire (OCVA), Volunteer Link Up, or Oxfordshire Volunteers. OCVA can help you to find a suitable volunteering role and provide support and training.

2. Do your own search

Find organisations that interest you and contact them.

  • Many larger charities and social enterprises are well organised about supporting volunteers.
  • Oxfordshire Volunteers has hundreds of volunteering opportunities.
3. Initiate community action

Many people simply take action to do something they like or initiate something that they would like to see in their neighbourhood. It may be joining a letter pick, helping to run the local community shop, starting a pop up cafe in the village hall, or getting an open space designated to safeguard it for the future. There are lots of resources available to support community action volunteers. See the resources section or contact Community First Oxfordshire.

Useful links

Data sources

Community planning and volunteering can be supported by evidence which can be obtained through neighbourhood surveys and local knowledge but is also strongly supported by statistics that are available from the census and other sources.

Action with Communities in Rural England has put together data profiles for every parish which package the available statistics (as at Nov 2013)  for easy use in community plans.  The census data in these profiles, in particular, is still the best available data for small areas such as parishes.

Oxfordshire communities can download their data profiles here:

Cherwell District parishes

South Oxfordshire parishes

Vale of White Horse District parishes

West Oxfordshire parishes

Oxford City

The following are also very useful sources for information about your community:

Office for National Statistics

Oxfordshire Insight: aims to provide evidence to support strategic policy development within Oxfordshire

Parish Online: provides quality mapping and powerful tools to Parish and Town Councils

Ordnance Survey: the UK government agency responsible for the official, definitive topographic survey and mapping of Great Britain

District Data Service: The Data Analysis service helps district councils in Oxfordshire to make use of data and evidence on multiple themes, including population and households, health and well-being and communities

Resources for Community Action

Getting started

  • What is it?: Define your idea, discuss it with friends. Do you need other people? Do you need funding? Do you need expert advice?
  • Get help: Identify and get in touch with people who can help you (see useful links)
  • Get people on board: Hold an event, distribute a survey, gather email address of people who are interested, communicate with them:
    • Creating simple surveys
    • Communications strategy
    • Feedback form
    • Skills audit

Establish a group

  • Most community action needs 2 or more people to make it happen. It is motivating to work with others as well as enabling you to share the work.
  • Decide how formal the group needs to be (if at all). Does it need a constitution or terms of reference? Will it need a bank account? Can another organisation hold funds on your behalf eg the parish council or community association?
  • In taking the decision on how to set up, be aware of liability if you enter into any contracts and any other risks. If there are significant risks, consider forming a legal entity or putting your activity under the umbrella of another organisation that has insurance and limited liability.
    • Constitution
    • Terms of reference
    • Management committees

Plan how to proceed

  • Develop a project plan
  • Consider costs, identify sources of funding

Implement Actions


Maintain momentum

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