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What our Annual Survey Told Us

The results are in! In our annual survey you told us how last year was and what support you thought would be useful in the coming year. Here, we try to break down those answers into a more digestible read.

In total, 41 people responded from 32 different CAGs from each corner of the county. That means that we heard from roughly 40% of all CAGs. Of those who responded, most were committee members, while others were staff members or committed volunteers.

annual survey infographic flat1

The Effects of Covid

Well, it seems community action groups are no different from the rest of the world and Covid affected you all in different ways.

Some of you told us that because of Covid, activities — including big events and consultations — didn’t happen at all. Some groups lost funding, some were not able to function or had zero engagement, and some had problems opening a bank account. Several groups reported having less mental energy — especially parents of school age children.

However, others said there were more volunteers, sometimes too many, so they could do activities on more days or expand activities. Many groups made the most of online events and lots got more inventive with community events.

Nevertheless, the network thrived! 

Despite this being an unusual year for community organising, over half of all members who responded are as active or more active than they were a year ago.

Results show that 85% of groups have been more effective in achieving their aims thanks to being in the CAG network.

Examples of how the network made them more effective include:

  1. funding opportunities and information on grants

  2. publicity and news through The Key & social media

  3. Covid guidance

  4. being part of the 20 stories exhibition organising

  5. collaborate groups

  6. phone support and advice

Work with local councils

Of the groups that responded, 75% had worked with their local authority (parish, district, county or city) in the last year.

Offering training and support around working with and influencing your local council will be a CAG network priority this year.

Your groups are working well, on the whole

The vast majority of group members felt that their groups were safe, welcoming and supportive so that everyone is able to participate.

Most felt that their group’s meetings were effective at getting things done and that they had a really good understanding of how the group is structured and how decisions are made (75% or more answer 8+ out of 10 for each question).

Where you need support

Group members had varied perceptions of their groups’ capacity, with several groups indicating that they are struggling with limited volunteers – this is something we would like to work with groups to address this year. We’d also like to widen participation – another aim for the upcoming year.

“Recruiting trustees and volunteers, including from different backgrounds, is probably the biggest challenge. We would like to reach beyond the ‘green bubble’ and the ‘usual suspects’”

“We sometimes struggle to recruit from/engage with all demographics in our local area. Most of our group is middle class and British, but much of our area is working class and/or multicultural.”

Access to funding is unbalanced: over a quarter of respondents considered that they don’t have enough money to support their activities, whilst almost a fifth agreed that they definitely had enough.

We have noted which areas where you would most likely need support from us, from left to right: email and phone support, online meetings for several groups, special project grants, district meetings, online training, in-person training, new online resources, and peer support mentoring. 

annual survey 3

Of those groups who responded, 70% had been in contact with other CAGs – most with more than one other CAG. We also asked you if you or anyone in your group would be interested in joining a collaborate group and there was a very enthusiastic response to this question! Here’s to more opportunities to work together in 2021.

Where your energies are going this year:


  1. Repair Cafes + training for them

  2. Planting trees/rewilding

  3. Land and housing (community-led)

  4. Energy + Homes

  5. Active Transport/Cycling Paths

  6. Community Gardens + Parks

  7. Food Waste and Cooking

Reaching Audiences:

  1. Awareness raising 

  2. Communicating the climate emergency

  3. Widening participation

  4. Engaging with schools and councils

Specific projects:

  1. 20 stories exhibition in partnership with Arts @ Old Fire Station

  2. Many Voices Collection run by Oxford Poetry Library and the Children’s Allotment

  3. The Watlington Green Plan – planting for biodiversity enhancement and carbon sequestration 

Our plans for the year ahead

Areas of focus 2021 flat

We’re a small team in the office and we’ve been thinking hard about what we need to prioritise this year and where our support is needed most.

Along with supporting the core work of the CAG network such as advice, support and training for groups and access to special project grants, we’re hoping to help you to recruit, support and mentor new volunteers this year.

We’re planning to find ways to broaden participation in community action groups across the board to try to diversify and expand the network and ensure it reflects all the people of our communities. We’ll do this by actively seeking out new and more diverse groups to support, and through increased training, resources and new collaborations.

We’re also keenly aware of just how important it is to work effectively with your local council and we want to help you do that so we can further our collective goals around climate action, community resilience and community wealth building. Look out for more details on that soon!

We’ve been so impressed by the work, spirit and enthusiasm of our collaborate groups that we want to plan strengthen the network by playing a greater role in facilitating the convening of local environmental groups in a collaborate-style discussion, for example in different districts, so we can team up for greater collective action. 

Finally, we’ll be celebrating CAG Oxfordshire’s 20th anniversary this year with our 20 Stories exhibition at the Old Fire Station. Lots of you are already involved in the project and we’re really looking forward to hearing your stories, inviting you all to join workshops and activities nd of course, come along to the exhibition, assuming Covid will allow us to do that in real life. If not, we’re planning some virtual celebrations instead and of course, will have a website giving lots of information about all the wonderful things you do and how others can get involved.  


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