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Bruntwood and The Oglesby Charitable Trust 10 November 2016

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Bruntwood has been heavily involved with the work of The Oglesby Charitable Trust (OCT) for some time, after founder of the Bruntwood Group, Michael Oglesby, and his wife Jean, established the Trust. Now with a Trustee Board of six members, including the Oglesby’s daughter, Kate Vokes and daughter in law, Jane Oglesby, the Trust is going from strength to strength. We spoke to Louise Magill, Relationship Manager to find out more about the Trust, the projects it supports and how she feels it is making a difference across the country.

Bruntwood’s relationship with the Oglesby Charitable Trust is a key part of our commitment to supporting the communities we work in. The grant-making trust has been active since 2000 and has helped over 300 charities, giving around £10 million.

Grant-making institutions tend to follow rigid giving processes and while the OCT is underpinned by carefully chosen funding criteria, these support the Oglesby family’s philanthropic values which means the Trust can be reactive, as well as proactive, responding to genuine need and the opportunity to make an impact.

“The Trustees really want to understand what the value of the work is, as well as who the people delivering the work are and what their values are,” explains Louise Magill, Relationship Manager at the Oglesby Charitable Trust. “We talk about values a lot at the Trust, as they’re front and centre of everything we do.”

While the Trust focuses most of its giving in the North West, it also supports a few projects both nationally and internationally. “We have a Greater Manchester focus and invest in local communities because we know that local people understand what the issues are in their backyard.” Working in this way means that the Trust can help deliver quality work and observe the impact that it brings about.

As a family Trust, the members have the opportunity to get involved with charities and projects that are aligned with their own interests, specialisms and backgrounds. “This means the Trustees can be quite dynamic and focused in their giving, although the main funding areas are arts, education, environment, medical and tackling social inequality. Sometimes the business advice and challenge that we give them on the way is as important as the money’.

Many of the projects the Oglesby Charitable Trust initiates and supports are chosen either because they respond to a gap in existing provision, or because they provide a new way of tackling a significant, persistent problem. Here are just a few that the Trust are involved with at the moment:

Shared Health Foundation

The Shared Health Foundation began with an OCT-commissioned report in 2013 that drew attention to the persistent health inequalities within Greater Manchester’s population. “I don’t think anyone was surprised by the conclusions, but it started an initial conversation about how these complex problems can be overcome,” explains Louise.

Following this, the OCT commissioned a large action research project, that looked at how diverse projects and initiatives in Greater Manchester were going about their work and delivering results at local level. Through this, the Trust was able to understand and learn from the great work that was already going on in the health and social care sector.

Encouraged by the positive city-wide response to this report, the Shared Health Foundation was then set up to address the health inequalities within Manchester that cause hardship for the population and impact the effectiveness as a regional economy. “From the initial action research, and the reactions to the report, we knew that we already had the skills, expertise and talents in the city to tackle the issues, but that we would have to think about working differently at both a strategic and local level if we’re going to make a real difference to the problems.”

Like the OCT, the Shared Health Foundation takes a person-centred approach to health and social care, and encourages people to take responsibility for their own wellbeing. “As an established funder, the OCT benefits from high levels of trust as well as many great contacts across the city. This gives us the opportunity to connect people, organisations, and sectors, encouraging the potential for new ways of working.”

City of Trees

Formerly known as Community Forest Trust, City of Trees Manchester hopes to plant a tree for every man, woman and child who lives in Greater Manchester, within a generation, and so far has planted over 40,000 trees.

While one of the key goals for the project is to encourage more partners to get involved in growing the ‘movement’, City of Trees also want to raise the profile of the project at more of an individual level. “We want it become normal for people to get involved in the landscape: going out at weekends to clear woodlands, helping to plant trees or just appreciating and protecting the landscape along the way,” says Louise.

Family Stability Network

One of the newest developments the Trust is involved in is the Family Stability Network (Fastn) which is a community of organisations who have joined together to champion positive and healthy relationships.

“We know that family breakdown is of growing concern. A child born today has only a 50/50 chance of living with both parents by the time they are 15, and this breakdown can have all kinds of harmful effects on children as they grow up” says Louise.

“It can be hard to communicate the importance of working on relationships during tricky times, as people’s expectations around relationships seem to have changed. The organisations involved in Fastn tell us that people expect everything to be perfect - forever, and if it’s not, they walk away.”

Fastn is working on a series of campaigns, focusing on different age groups and relationships, to encourage more positive relationships and improved family stability.

The first of the campaigns, Status, launched in June this year to appeal to the 18-24 year old group. To create the best campaign they could, the team carried out a wealth of research and focus groups. More work is set to be carried out to maintain the campaign, but Fastn is soon to be looking at the next group: young parents.

“We all recognise that becoming a parent at a young age can be incredibly stressful, and unsurprisingly that is where relationship breakdown tends to spike,” says Louise. “The next campaign will run in parallel to Status, and Fastn is looking at bringing in more partners to support them in this.”

Of course, these are just a few of the 80+ projects that the Oglesby Charitable Trust supports at any one time. The OCT grants between £2m-3m a year and takes an extremely hands-on approach to its funding activity. “The Trustees have a personal level of involvement with every project they support. Every grant made is built on relationships that tend to grow over time with the activity itself. We proactively maintain contact with the people delivering the work to understand what works and how - which, in the end, is what it’s all about.”

Michael Oglesby at City of Trees event
Michael Oglesby at City of Trees event

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