Welcome to the Gallery!

The winner of the "Brand the Bus!" 2020-2021 competition is now announced!

Entry 21: Blue Skye Thinking

Together with the Oxford Bus Company, we want to make journeys count across our city. What do you dream about? Get on board our BIG BLUE DREAM BUS and see it as precious time to pause, reflect and dream big. Just imagine if our dream could be made a reality and save the life of a child? Run entirely by volunteers, Blue Skye Thinking is an Oxfordshire charity which strives to give all children diagnosed a better chance of survival and improved quality of life during and post treatment for the No.1 fatal cancer disease in young people. We provide a range of inspiring well-being projects at Oxford Children’s Hospital, awareness of early diagnosis signs in the community and fund Discovery Science, an area at the brink of losing specialist researchers in the field due to the pandemic. Together, we can make 2021 a year of positivity. Winning this competition would enable us to focus an entire year’s campaign around the magical concept of never giving up on your dreams, with the #OxfordDreamBus at the very heart. This entry was submitted by Sally Hall.


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04: Abingdon Riding for the Disabled Group

We all know that buses keep people moving. Did you know that horses can bring even more meaningful freedom of movement to people with disabilities? Abingdon RDA (Riding for the Disabled Association) has been doing just that for the past 45 years: offering specialised horse riding sessions to children and adults with a range of disabilities. Whether it’s the unique physical benefits riding can provide, the sense of independence, or inclusive social opportunities, hundreds of people in Oxfordshire have benefited from our group’s services and achieved huge things: from sitting unaided for the first time, to winning national competitions. Our impact is a real team effort, relying on the generosity of more than 150 local volunteers to fundraise, deliver sessions, and care for our horses. Riding is more than just physiotherapy or a hobby for our participants: it’s a way of nurturing self-esteem, achieving accessible goals, and truly belonging. Our current participants represent a diverse spectrum of disabilities, from cerebral palsy and spina bifida to Down’s syndrome and autism. We often surprise people with how much our riders, who might be blind, deaf, or unable to walk unaided, are able to do in the saddle. We say it’s what you CAN do that counts! Abingdon RDA has faced unprecedented difficulties in 2020: our centre in Southmoor was closed for three months during lockdown; our fundraising calendar has been seriously disrupted; and we are still unable to welcome all of our riders back to sessions due to Covid-19 safety protocol. We have worked hard to keep our group going throughout these challenges (it costs close to £100k each year), and know how important it is to be there for our riders when our gates are fully open again. We would love to ‘Brand the Bus’ this year to show more people about our inspiring, life changing work, and to gain further support from the local community to help keep our wheels (or should we say, hooves?) turning. Abingdon RDA would love your vote! This entry was submitted by Alice Summersbee.


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05: Reducing the Risk

By entering the competition, I haven't used slides. However, I have given an all-out explanation as to why I feel Reducing the Risk deserve the honour of having their details on your bus. In short, this is an amazing charity who support change for vulnerable people within our society who flee domestic abuse. During this awful pandemic, I believe the work this charity does for the community should be advertised on your bus, showing victims that there is help and support out there, helping them feel less isolated. Please read my attached file and consider this amazing charity. This entry was submitted by Fiona Bowler.

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14: Against Breast Cancer

Vote for Against Breast Cancer for Brand the Bus to help us beat secondary spread breast cancer. We are a small charity born in Oxfordshire. We fund ground-breaking research to improve detection, treatment and increase survival after breast cancer diagnosis. In the UK, 1 in 7 women will develop breast cancer during their lifetime. We support research into secondary spread breast cancer – the spread of breast cancer cells from the primary cancer to other parts of the body and the main cause of breast cancer-related deaths. Our story starts from humble beginnings as the personal mission of our founders Anthony and Patricia Leathem to beat breast cancer. Thirty years ago, Anthony worked as a pathologist and his wife Patricia was working as a breast cancer theatre nurse at Oxford’s Churchill Hospital. Upset by the number of post mortems Anthony did each day on young women with breast cancer, he started researching breast cancer survival. But he needed to find the funding for this research, so the couple took the matter into their own hands and started to fundraise themselves. We’ve come a long way since then and grown as a charity, so we now support a large research portfolio with work going on nationwide including in our home county of Oxfordshire at Oriel College, Oxford University. The focus of our research is preventing secondary spread, as well as understanding how diet and lifestyle can impact breast cancer progression. Working with expert scientists, we want to increase the survival rates of all breast cancer patients and, ultimately, discover a vaccine against breast cancer. For us to have an Oxford Bus Company bus branded would help us to increase awareness of our pioneering breast cancer research, secondary spread breast cancer and our charity's ambition to increase survival rates of breast cancer after diagnosis. Vote for us and help us brand an Oxford Bus “pink” and raise awareness in the fight against breast cancer. This entry was submitted by Samantha Williamson.


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02: Helen & Douglas House

Please vote for Helen & Douglas House children’s hospice in the ‘Brand the Bus!’ competition. We are a local charity, based in Oxford, who care for terminally ill babies, children and teenagers. Our care is provided at our hospice, in a child's home and also in hospital. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to care for our families by adapting and offering more support at home. This has ensured that we can be there for them, whenever and wherever we are needed to help avoid a crisis. Since we opened in 1982, as the world’s first children's hospice, we have helped many local families cope with the challenges of looking after a terminally ill child who will die prematurely. We are a home-from-home for local terminally ill children and their families and provide round-the-clock care in a warm, loving environment. It costs £3.6 million a year for our charity to care for local terminally ill children and 85% of that funding comes from supporters like you. But we need to get the message out there to encourage more people to support us. Vote for us and help us win so that we can be featured on the 'Brand the Bus!' vehicle! You'll be raising awareness of your local children's hospice charity and helping us continue to create happy memories for the terminally ill children who we care for, and their families who are facing the devastating loss of a child. Thank you for your support. This entry was submitted by Hannah Ford.


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06: Shine Oxford

Shine is the only UK charity providing information and peer support for adults in their 20s, 30s or 40s with a cancer diagnosis. Having cancer affects not only your physical health, but also your career, finances, fertility options, relationships with family, friends and partners, and mental wellbeing. Those we support need a place to feel like themselves and be among others who just get it. Shine Oxford organises friendly, non-judgmental, open and fun events in local pubs, cafes, colleges, bowling alleys and restaurants for anyone in Oxfordshire or nearby. Recently, the coronavirus pandemic has made things difficult, stopping in-person events and severely reducing our fundraising. In response, we have set up regular online meetings, and our members have been able to take part in film clubs, book clubs, quizzes, online coaching and much more! Shine Oxford is entirely volunteer run, by two local cancer survivors. We welcome anyone with a cancer diagnosis whether they are newly diagnosed, receiving ongoing treatment, navigating the return to normal life or learning to live with cancer. We are committed to being a welcoming port in a storm for as many people as possible. Our membership has quadrupled in recent years as we have become better known, but we are still a small charity, with limited resources for marketing. Despite the pandemic, our main goal is to make sure everyone who needs us knows how to find us, which is why the promotional opportunities from Brand the Bus would be invaluable to local people. Coronavirus has taken so much from so many people, but cancer hasn’t stopped. It is an unfortunate reality that cancer treatment and services have been delayed, bringing yet another layer of distress and anxiety to our members. Shine is needed more than ever and, by voting for us, you will help us reach out to those who will benefit from our support. Thank you. This entry was submitted by Samantha Hutton.

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08: SeeSaw

SeeSaw is a small Oxfordshire charity that provides grief support to local children, young people and their families and/or carers. We provide information, advice, resources, consultations, training, support for schools, and face-to-face support sessions for children and young people, usually within their own homes. We offer telephone advice and tools to help family members and professionals, such as teachers, to be able to provide that support. Our service is free of charge to all families that we support. COVID-19: new challenges. For children and young people, the death of a parent or sibling is one of the most difficult things they will ever have to deal with. To face this loss during a global pandemic, when all that is reassuring and familiar seems to be at risk, is enormously destabilising for a child. SeeSaw's clinical bereavement work usually focuses on meeting, assessing and offering one-to-one support for children, together with the parent/s. We quickly adapted our service to ensure that families could access support through digital platforms like Skype and FaceTime, as well as by telephone and email. The new website and our social media platforms acted as a support hub with downloadable resources, blogs and easy access for young people. SeeSaw's service is sadly needed more now than ever before. We feel that it is vitally important that families in Oxfordshire know where they can access help for their children when there has been a death in the family. Having SeeSaw's branding on an Oxford Bus Company vehicle would help raise awareness across the county. The entry was submitted by Jane Elliott.


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11: Maggie's Oxford

Please vote for Maggie's Oxford! Local people need to know about Maggie's and the services we provide, and having a bus branded in our name would help us reach more people who need our support. The UK is expecting 35,000 excess deaths from cancer, due to the coronavirus pandemic. People need our support now more than ever. At Maggie's, we offer free advice and information for people with cancer and their families and friends. Our building is just opposite the main entrance to the Churchill Hospital, and we operate as a drop-in centre from 9 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. We also offer support over the phone and through our online groups. Our Cancer Support Specialists, Psychologist and Benefits Advisor are here if you or someone you care about has cancer. We hope you can watch our video about Xanthe, who has benefited from the help we provide. Thank you for your vote, and thank you to the Oxford Bus Company for this opportunity. This entry was submitted by Pip Dingle.


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13: Sobell House Hospice

Sobell House is an adult hospice caring for adults from age 18 who are living with a life-limiting illness in Oxfordshire. At any given time, we will be caring for over 500 people, in our 18-bed in-patient unit, across the main Oxfordshire hospitals and in patients’ homes. Our mission is to accompany patients and their families on perhaps the most difficult journey they will ever make. We focus on the quality of life, respecting each person’s uniqueness and supporting people to live as well as possible in the time they have left. We offer physical, psychological, social and spiritual care to people across Oxfordshire facing illness, death and bereavement. It is our mission to enrich the lives of our patients and those who love and care for them. Our Bereavement Service offers support and counselling to those coping with the loss of a loved one under the care of Sobell House. We provide an opportunity to have someone to talk to who will listen in confidence to anything someone wants to share, with sensitivity and without judgement. Sobell House is a very special place and the medical & support teams are very special too. Throughout the last difficult seven months, 24/7 care has continued. We find that once patients are being cared for by Sobell House, they feel a sense of calm and reassurance, knowing that they are in safe, expert hands. We know from patients and families about how much they value the care and support provided by the Hospice. Please do watch the film below about Julia. Robert, Julia's husband: “I think by being at Sobell House, Julia was given an extra four weeks of life, which gave her time to see her loved ones and say goodbye". Julia spent her final days on our ward and died in January 2019. Please vote for Sobell House so our image can be seen on buses around the community we have been supporting and part of for nearly 45 years. This entry was submitted by Tim Wraith.


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17: Oxfordshire Mind

We're Oxfordshire Mind, your local mental health charity. We’re here to make sure anyone with a mental health problem has somewhere to turn for advice and support. We’re also here to listen openly and without judgement; to empower individuals in their mental health journey; and to remind people that they are not alone. In fact, 1 in 4 people will experience a mental health difficulty in their lifetime. We are committed to raise awareness, campaign for changes to improve services and promote understanding of mental health. Our aim to create a climate of understanding, empathy and compassion, with all peer supporters, volunteers and many staff members having lived or secondary experiences of mental health problems. Similarly, we work alongside our service users, valuing their expertise, experiences, and opinions through our involvement opportunities. This competition is a great example of this unique and inspiring collaboration, as one of our service users encouraged and supported our entry into this competition. This year has been a difficult one for many; different routines, anxiety about going out, financial pressure, bereavement, uncertainty, isolation and increased strain on people’s existing mental health difficulties. The Office for National Statistics (June 2020) found that nearly 1 in 5 adults were experiencing depression, this is double the figure from last year. These statistics highlight the demand for mental health support now more than ever. Throughout the pandemic, Oxfordshire Mind has provided support through virtual and in-person peer support groups, safe spaces for those in crisis, wellbeing calls, signposting and short courses. We know these things can be hard to talk about, but we are here, on the end of the phone or the other side of the keyboard, and we never give up. Just like a bus connects people with places, we wish to connect with more people in Oxfordshire and promote connection with our wellbeing, with loved ones and support. This entry was submitted by Sarah Jordan.


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01: Oxford Together On Climate Change (Rose Hill & Iffley Low Carbon Group)

Please vote to brand the bus with Oxford Together on Climate Change. We’re a coalition of Oxford groups that take practical action on the climate emergency. We don’t just want to preach to the converted. We want to include everyone in the shift to sustainable living - and that’s where the bus comes in. If we win, all Oxford residents will see the seven simple actions below. We hope that these messages will reach people outside the green bubble, so that taking action on climate change becomes normal for all of us. In the film, we asked seven Rose Hill residents how they’re already changing the way they live. Here are some practical things they do: walk, cycle or use the bus; eat more local food and less meat; plant trees; save energy in the home with better insulation; support renewable energy and switch to a green energy tariff; repair, re-use and re-cycle - and buy less stuff; talk to family and friends about climate change. Most people worry about the changing climate, yet feel their actions won’t make a difference. But if we all act together, we can still save our lovely world for present and future generations. Please vote to get this urgent message on the bus! This entry was submitted by Eleanor Watts.


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03: Pancreatic Cancer Action

I have lived in Oxford all my life and in 2011 my world collapsed when my mother, Janet Priest, was diagnosed with this horrific disease (pancreatic cancer). Within just seven weeks of this diagnosis, she died. I then found this charity whilst looking for support and can never thank them enough for not only their support, giving me the strength to turn my grief into helping others but also for believing in me enough to make me an area representative for Oxfordshire. Within the last few years, I have supported over 20 other families in Oxford whose loved ones have sadly been diagnosed and lost their lives to pancreatic cancer. Together with the help of PCA we continuously fundraise and push for more awareness throughout Oxfordshire. We even held our first Oxford “Striding for Survival” event and this has now been confirmed as an annual event. To have Pancreatic Cancer Action emblazoned all over one of Oxford Bus Company’s buses would just be fantastic for more awareness and help us to change the horrific statistics that survival of pancreatic cancer has. This entry was submitted by Kelley Spacey.


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07: Oxfordshire Autistic Society Information & Support (OASIS)

Oasis is a small charity run by a committee of parents, providing support for families of children on the autistic spectrum & related conditions, such as sensory processing disorder and global development delay. OASIS knows it can sometimes be a lonely and challenging experience raising a child with autism and we aim to support families through the services that we offer. OASIS runs monthly coffee and chat session in Oxford, Abingdon, Didcot and Wantage, these are very informal drop ins, it’s a place to eat cake, drink coffee and just off load without feeling any kind of judgement. Our members have also said this is one of the best places for first-hand experience and they get some great advice. OASIS also runs annual clinics that run for free for anyone to attend to gain outside professional support for their individual circumstances. The book lending library is vast and available to members for borrowing at any time, this is kept up to date with new material. OASIS also plans to launch a sensory library whereby members can try some of the most expensive equipment without any of the expenses. One of the main services OASIS provides is playdays during all school holidays, as parents of ASD children we completely understand that the school holidays can be isolating and stressful. This provision is for the whole family unit, it includes parents and siblings so everyone gets involved. OASIS aims to provide a wide range of activities that are both suitable and safe for everyone. OASIS is currently the only organisation that provides this type of support across the whole county. So for OASIS to win "Brand the Bus!" would just be totally amazing to our current families we support and the ones we would potentially reach as a result. OASIS has been running for 28 years and will continue to provide support for many more to come. The entry was submitted by Maxime Seddon.

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09: Quest for Learning

For twenty-four years, local charity Quest for Learning has quietly helped over 5000 of the most disadvantaged children in Oxfordshire catch up with their peers in reading, writing and mental maths. Next year is our 25th birthday and we’d like the chance to shout about what we do! Education is a superpower. It can magically open doors, take you on adventures and get you to where you want to go. But for some children, learning is super hard. There are lots of different reasons why children lose their way: lack of confidence, concentration challenges, emotional issues, English as a second language and difficulties at home. But without good English and maths skills, children are unable to access other parts of the curriculum and quickly fall behind in class. We know that low levels of these key skills are strongly correlated with poor employment prospects, poverty, and criminal behaviour in later life. Did you know that one in five children can't read well by the time they leave primary school? Typically children from low-income families struggle the most. In Oxfordshire, these children finish primary school nearly a year behind their classmates. Through our literacy and numeracy programmes, Quest for Learning help children flourish at school, levelling the playing field and increasing their life chances. We would very much appreciate your support as we are having our busiest year ever due to recent school closures. And that’s because what we do, works. In just 6 weeks, the children supported by QfL make 14 months’ progress in reading on average - some make as much as 40 months progress! You too can be an education superhero, and help us raise our profile so we can reach more of Oxfordshire’s children. Your support can help us support children disadvantaged at school through no fault of their own, to discover their full potential. The entry was submitted by Anne Bajorek.


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10: Homeless Oxfordshire

Often, people think of homeless shelters as the only way to go when it comes to caring for people who have become homeless. This is not how we view things at Homeless Oxfordshire. As the biggest provider of specialist accommodation in Oxfordshire, we do so much more than offer ‘quick fixes’. The reasons people become homeless are so complicated and everybody’s story is different. We’ve been around for over 30 years, so we have an unparalleled amount of expertise. We offer specialist advice and support packages to help people get back on track – whether that’s helping to rebuild literacy and numeracy skills or training people to manage a budget. One of our clients told us how much healthier she feels, simply because she actually eats regularly and takes her medication. These are such basic things for most people, but for someone with mental health issues, the ‘basics’ might not be so simple. Freddie, one of our clients recently moved on and into his own accommodation. After spending about a year with us, he found a full-time job, managed to beat alcohol addiction and has become a peer mentor for other people experiencing similar challenges. So why do we do what we do? When we see chilling statistics around the life expectancy of homeless people, it makes us want to spring into action. The average age of death for a homeless woman is 43 years old; the average life expectancy for a woman not experiencing homelessness is 83. That’s nearly half a life. Before, during and after the UK was in its strictest lockdown period, we still provided support to over 200 clients; we kept them safe and secure at a time when the world had ground to a halt. We believe homelessness can be solved. By voting for us, you’ll help us to (quite literally) save lives. By raising our profile in Oxford through the ‘Brand the Bus’ competition, we can challenge systems and work with people that society has left behind by helping them to rebuild their lives. This entry was submitted by Sophie Paulden.


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12: Oxfordshire Youth

There are over 115,000 young people in Oxfordshire. Now, more than ever, they are facing challenges of loneliness, isolation, mental health, widening skills gap and uncertainty about the future. The COVID-19 pandemic has created a volatile environment, where opportunities to develop employability and independence skills are greatly diminished. Young people are strong, driven and talented. Our vision is for them all to be empowered, feel respected and know that they are valued. They need to know we are here, providing support and opportunities. Through our partnerships, they have access to safe spaces and trusting relationships, where they can be themselves, make friends, develop new skills and make positive changes to their lives and communities. Oxfordshire Youth is the leading youth organisation in Oxfordshire for the whole youth sector and we believe that, together, we can support our future. Young people are the most prolific bus users and having a branded bus would help us to reach more groups and young people that are unaware of Oxfordshire Youth and how we can help them to create a better future for themselves and all Oxfordshire residents. Please vote for us so we can be a step closer to providing every young person in our county with opportunities and support that they need and deserve. An Oxfordshire Youth branded bus would make all the difference by increasing our visibility. This entry was submitted by Magda Charlton.


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15: Restore

It’s never been more important for people experiencing dips in their mental health to know they’re not alone. That’s why it’s critical that this year, the Oxford Bus Company Brands the Bus with Restore’s logo and message. Many of us - 47% in fact - are experiencing difficulties with our mental health at the moment, but it’s not always clear what we can do to support ourselves or those we love through these challenging times. Branded with Restore’s logo, bearing the words “you are not alone”, and directing people to services that can help them, an Oxford Bus Company double-decker would become a source of hope and inspiration, helping people feel less isolated and empowering them to seek the support they need. What does Restore do? We’re a mental health charity based on Cowley Road, with five Recovery Groups spread across Oxfordshire. We support people to take control of their recovery, develop skills and lead meaningful lives, and offer Recovery Groups, training and employment coaching to make this possible. In our regular Recovery Groups, our members participate in activities such as gardening, woodworking, crafts, cooking and retail, which help them develop the skills and confidence they need to re-enter their communities, be that as volunteers, employees, students or anything else they want to be. Our employment coaching supports members to find and stay in work, volunteering roles, or education while our Mental Health First Aid training breaks down barriers and equips people across Oxfordshire to help those experiencing mental health difficulties. It’s not always easy to tell who’s experiencing mental ill-health, and not always easy for them to talk about it or reach out for help. Branding the Bus for Restore would inspire people to seek services that can help them - vote for Restore, and vote to spread hope. This entry was submitted by Miranda Davies.


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16: A Future Without Rubbish

Please vote for the Association for A Future Without Rubbish. We’re a not-for-profit that is working hard to improve recycling rates in Oxfordshire. We bring together all parts of a neighbourhood (schools, council, businesses and community – ‘SCBC’) in the fight against waste. We believe we must all come together in this endeavour! We have school pupils as leading 'agents' in this fight – so they become agents of change – by educating them about recycling and rubbish through activities explaining the concepts of waste and the circular economy. If we win, we could increase our reach in Oxfordshire, hopefully sparking more involvement with other local schools, making more agents and driving increased recycling rates. This entry was submitted by Ashleigh Parsons.


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18: Enrych Oxfordshire

Enrych, founded by the well-known couple Leonard Cheshire and Sue Ryder, has been working across Oxfordshire for nearly 35 years. Over this time, the charity has grown considerably. We are supporting adults with a physical disability to engage more fully within their local communities. We are also encouraging a society whereby adults with a physical disability have the opportunity to add quality to their life through two of life’s greatest pleasures; leisure and learning. We recruit volunteers to pair with our members to share their interest in a particular activity such as swimming, painting, board games, fishing, gardening, etc. The list is virtually limitless. Most of our volunteer partnerships evolve to become strong friendships, making them pretty special for both those we support and our volunteers who support them. We have and will continue to develop the services we offer and have in recent times introduced an annual holiday, a digital inclusion service and have enhanced our social programme of events to include lunches, bowling and art groups together with regular day trips. Afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace was a highlight of 2019! Obviously, we have had to adapt our face-to-face services this year and cannot hold our regular meet-ups. But we are doing all we can to increase support and connection, the importance of which has become even more apparent to us all over the last few months. Part of this has been running lots of fun online sessions including workouts, sing-a-longs, quizzes and so much more! If we were selected for 'Brand the Bus!', this would undoubtedly increase the awareness of Enrych for not just people needing our services but also for people looking to volunteer, and not forgetting those Businesses, Trusts and Foundations that might like to support us with much needed funds. Please vote for Enrych and enable us to enrich the lives of others by unlocking their abilities rather than focussing on their disabilities. This entry was submitted by Felicity Dorey.


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19: Oxford African Caribbean Conversation

Oxford African Caribbean Conversation (OACC) wants to honour and remember Empire Soldiers. We would like a picture of a Sikh, an African soldier in military uniform along with the celebrated first Caribbean-Heritage footballer in the English league, Walter Tull, as a representative of the Caribbean Military contribution, on an Oxford Bus Company double-decker with the caption “United in defence of England.” Parliament and the English people must not be permitted to forget the historical contribution of Sikhs, Indian, African and Caribbean peoples. Very sadly, the contribution from the brave people of the Empire has not received the attention they deserve. Oxford African Caribbean Conversation has been in existence in various guises since 2014, when we celebrated and honoured the centenary of the Great War by specifically honouring the contribution from Sikh, African and Caribbean soldiers. This entry was submitted by Chaka Artwell.

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20: Be Free Young Carers

Be Free Young Carers (BFYC) is a local Oxfordshire charity, based in Didcot, that works with young carers aged 8 to 24 years old. BFYC is the only specialist organisation supporting young carers in Oxfordshire and receives no statutory funding. We have been supporting young carers for over 25 years with the emotional and practical advice they need to manage the stresses and responsibilities of being a young carer, balancing their caring role with school and with the developmental needs of a child. How does Be Free Young Carers help? BFYC addresses these needs by providing young carers with: • emotional support and befriending - meeting with young carers to talk through their concerns, working with schools and families to help to alleviate isolation, anxiety, and stress that so many young carers experience; • social activities - time for themselves away from their caring roles, to make friends, and have fun; • young carers leisure card - discounted pay and play activities at local leisure centres; • training - in key skills such as first aid, relaxation and cookery/nutrition to improve their self-confidence and ability to cope in their caring roles. • BFYC supports 560 young carers. In the Oxfordshire area, it is estimated there are 12,000 young carers, on average, two in every classroom. This is why we need to win 'Brand the Bus!' to let young carers know that we are here and that they are important. Their work goes unnoticed by most, the hours that they spend caring for a loved one, a sibling or parent, on top of the additional pressures of school. COVID-19 has hit young carers particularly hard, double isolated in lockdown, no respite at school, their own mental health has suffered considerably, yet they continue. Please vote for us to not only show your support for young carers but to reach those young carers that don't yet know that we are here to support them. Thank you. This entry was submitted by Sabiene North.

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22: Assisted Reading for Children Ltd (ARCh)

ARCh is an award winning Oxfordshire charity, established in 2008. Since that time, we have helped thousands of children develop a life-enhancing love of reading. Books transport children to different worlds and ARCh has an amazing impact on a child. After a year’s ARCh support, children improve in reading confidence, in attitude to reading and increase in confidence/self-esteem. ARCh volunteering is open to all - no particular qualifications are needed, just good communication skills, a love of books and enjoyment of children’s company. Each reader is resourced with a box of books and games to use in their sessions in school with their individual children. Resources are tailored to suit the interests of the children, to encourage the children to have fun while sharing an enjoyable half hour with a dedicated and interested adult. We ensure that every ARCh volunteer enjoys their role and gains as much from their experience as the children do! Volunteers and children frequently tell us that their ARCh time is the highlight of their week! ARCh Reader Sandra says “I always leave school with a smile on my face. ARCh is a very rewarding charity to work with and the ARCh back-up team supports volunteers so well.” Full training, ongoing support and travel expenses are provided for volunteers. There are so many benefits for children and volunteers alike, it is a win/win experience and can be life-changing for both parties. We are calling on the local community (residents, students, and businesses) to get involved in inspiring local children to develop a love of reading which will enhance their lives at schools and beyond. As a small local charity we do not have a budget for advertising. Being featured on an Oxford bus would highlight the need for all to enjoy happy reading – now needed more than ever before. We would be so proud to see ARCh emblazoned on an Oxford bus! Please vote to help us help more Oxford children on their reading journey! This entry was submitted by Jane Rendle.


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23: A Band of Brothers

Across Oxfordshire there are men whom have grown up in difficult circumstances, often exacerbated by poverty, learning difficulties and poor mental health. Drug and alcohol abuse are commonplace and there is often no means of peaceful conflict resolution. Positive male role models are in short supply. This creates a toxic combination of early year’s trauma and a set of cultural norms, at odds with our society. A Band of Brothers provides support to these young men through a hard-hitting rites-of-passage mentored by trained, volunteer, older men from their communities. Their mentors are from a diverse range of backgrounds including ex-servicemen and ex-offenders. These are often the first positive male role models the young men have encountered and the first time they have experienced mature masculinity. We call our mentoring programme the “Quest for Community”. During a residential weekend, set in nature away from the everyday distractions of normal life, the young men are provided with a safe space to challenge the underlying causes of their behaviour and start to develop a new narrative full of purpose, meaning and connection. Now, with COVID-19, we have very successfully adapted the mentoring programme to fulfil the government guidelines to keep people safe. The weekend is followed by a twelve-week mentoring programme in which the young men are provided with the support they need to transform their lives. A key point that sets A Band of Brothers apart is that we create a lasting community and build ongoing relationships. Drawing on the goodwill of male volunteers from within the young men’s own communities enables this. We remain in regular contact with many of the young men who have taken part in our programmes over the years. Once again, the contact is now following government’s recommendations. Since many of these young men are users of the Oxford Bus Company system, by branding the bus with the Band of Brothers name and description, we will be able to reach more of them! This entry was submitted by Noe Orozco.


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