Community Action Groups Project, Oxfordshire

The CAG Oxfordshire Project is a network of over 65 community action groups spread across Oxfordshire, each working towards making Oxfordshire a more sustainable county. The groups take community-led action based on issues such as waste, transport, food, energy, biodiversity and social justice.

It was set up in 2001 by Oxfordshire County Council and Resource Futures, who worked together to secure funding from TOE (Trust for Oxfordshire’s Environment) to help kick-start local environmental projects. Between 2004 and 2019, this work was financed by Oxfordshire County Council and run by Resource Futures’ staff team in Oxfordshire.

The network is the largest of its kind in the UK and 2018-2019 was its most impactful year on record with groups across the network holding over 4,000 events, with 80,000 attendees, and contributing 51,000 volunteer hours (equivalent to 31 full-time staff). After many years of success, it became a community benefit society from December 2019 to run as an independent and democratically accountable network cooperatively owned by the 65 groups and social enterprises it supports.

Following the success of CAG Oxfordshire and setting up CAG Devon, founding director at Resource Futures, Jane Stephenson, talks about the power of community action at a local level.

Objectives

The CAG Oxfordshire project was set up in 2001 by Resource Futures with Oxfordshire County Council to:

  • Support and increase the impact of community-led groups taking action on sustainability in Oxfordshire
  • Help reduce Oxfordshire’s carbon emissions and create a greener, more sustainable county
  • Reduce waste across the county
  • Empower people in local communities and increase social cohesion

CAG Oxfordshire is now an independent organisation, continuing the positive work.

Approach

The CAG network concept provides a decentralised, facilitative, peer-to-peer network approach. As a supporting organisation our aim is to empower the local network of community groups to grow, develop and become more resilient. The values that shape our approach are:

  • Community led, grassroots action
  • Inclusivity
  • Positivity
  • Co-operation and mutual support
  • Fostering community interconnectivity and recognising interdependence
  • Localisation

Outcomes

Between 2017 and 2018 alone the CAG Oxfordshire project has achieved

  • 3,199 events and activities promoting sustainability
  • 104,890 event participants who either learned about or participated in creating a more sustainable Oxfordshire
  • 31,971 hours volunteered by members of the local community, equating to the value of £414,672 in volunteer time, to improve sustainability in Oxfordshire
  • 159 tonnes of waste prevented and diverted from local waste disposal
  • 31,596 (KWH) of energy savings
  • 60 tonnes of carbon emissions avoided
  • £126,251 consumer savings through reduced energy bills, savings from purchasing equivalent items and from reduced use of resources arising through reuse projects
  • £988,532 of funding and income raised and generated by groups in the CAG Oxfordshire network
  • 17:1 return on investment for £92,000 core funding given by Oxfordshire County Council

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