The Community Action Group (CAG) Project is a pioneering model of supporting, measuring, empowering and connecting grassroots environmental initiatives. CAGs are offered small pots of funding, insurance coverage, advice with engaging their communities and day-to-day personal bespoke support. The Oxfordshire CAG project has been delivered and managed since its inception in 2001 by Resource Futures and continues to be a partnership between Oxfordshire County Council and the five Oxfordshire District Councils. The Oxfordshire network consists of over 60 unique groups taking action on waste, energy, food, transport, biodiversity and social inequality. The CAG network is now the largest of its kind in the UK and regularly reports on good practice to national organisations such as WRAP, as well as National Government and has its own website www.cagoxfordshire.org.uk
Individually, CAGs aim to take direct action on their local environment, promoting sustainable living and community cohesion. As a network the groups aim to shape Oxfordshire’s environmental development, working with local authorities, business and campaigning organisations to influence all aspects of society. Our staff work to increase capacity within the network and to demonstrate the benefits of community action to a national and international audience.
In 2014/15, the project saw over 1,400 events held across Oxfordshire, attended by over 65,000 people. 49 tonnes of items were saved from landfill, and the network generated over £500,000 in external funding. These numbers are rising every year as the strength and size of the network increases. More groups are being supported to develop social enterprise models, working towards their aims in a way which generates a sustainable income to keep the project growing in outcomes but not in dependence on funding.
Community action has been widely demonstrated to boost health, wellbeing, reduced crime rates and social cohesion within communities. The information and resources offered by groups in their local area also allows for embedded behaviour change over time.
The benefits to Oxfordshire’s County and District Council in terms of financial savings from carbon and waste reduction, as well as in communicating local authority campaigns from a local level, is demonstrated by the ongoing financial support for the project.