Community Action Groups Oxfordshire (CAG Oxfordshire) has been supporting community groups across the county for 20 years now. In this time we’ve grown from a very humble start to a network of almost 100 groups working on issues as diverse as waste, food security, biodiversity, tree planting, active travel, low- and zero-carbon initiatives and social justice. CAG Oxfordshire acts as a central support to the network, facilitating discussion between groups, offering training, hosting skill shares and advising groups as issues arise.

Although groups work on a local level within their own communities, their collective impact is highly impressive. Despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, 2019-2020 was an impactful year with the network holding 5,016 events and activities by 87 groups, attracting 38,284 attendees, understandably this figure is lower than the 80,000 attendees the previous year. An estimated 51,000 volunteer hours were recorded, a figure equivalent to about 31 full-time staff.

The CAG Oxfordshire network also prevented 1,408 tonnes of waste going to local waste disposal (that’s the same as 1,408 small cars), despite COVID restricting many groups’ activities.

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However, new reuse projects were introduced during the pandemic. Notably, laptop repair and giveaway schemes run by Sustainable Wantage and Sustainable Didcot where a total of 97 old laptops were donated to the groups were refurbished and given to school children who did not have computer access at home for home learning.

Additionally, Broken Spoke, Cyclox and Windrush Bikes were involved in repairing bikes for Key workers to safely get to work. A total of 315 were repaired through this scheme. An impressive total of 1433 bikes were repaired by CAGs during this period.

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The positive impact of the network cannot be overestimated. From tree planting, waste and traffic reduction, and community growing to friendships made, communities strengthened and improvements to wellbeing, the network demonstrates that a more sustainable way of life possible, and is already happening.

As a Community Benefit Society (CBS) our aim is not only to help build a greener and more sustainable Oxfordshire, but to build more resilient, empowered communities and drive community-led social change. We try to build relationships between our members, our members and partner organisations and local councils. 

We are a proactive, inclusive and diverse network that offers advice, expertise and mentoring to set up and maintain groups and develop projects, events and activities. We highlight best practice, offers tools for widening diversity and involvement in community action, and communicate that a more sustainable, just and environmentally friendly future is possible. 85% of our members report that being part of the network made them more effective. 

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Our collaborate groups connect members and interested external organisations and individuals working on similar themes to facilitate collective action. Collaborate events are opportunities for Community Action Groups (CAGs) working on similar projects or across a common theme to meet up, share and find ways of working together.

The meetings are open to members of the CAG network, as well as other associated, like-minded groups and organisations. We also moderate themed mailing lists for CAGs to communicate with each other between meetings. We currently run collaborate groups for groups concerned with waste, energy, surplus food, growing, trees and rewilding, plastics and climate action with children.