February 5, 2024

RWK Goodman Charitable Fund: The Berin Centre

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RWK Goodman, at the heart of our communities

RWK Goodman is a national firm, but we are committed to supporting the many communities we serve.

Since 2011 we have been working with the Oxfordshire Community Foundation to build a charitable fund that supports local community organisations across Oxfordshire. The Berin Centre is a local community hub serving the Berinsfield and surrounding area. After being chosen by our Partners to receive a grant from the RWK Goodman Charitable Fund, The Berin Centre has used this money to expand its support offering and to help more families in the local community.

RWK Goodman Partner, and Head of Injury, Tracy Norris-Evans visited the Centre and met up with Family Services Coordinator, Lin Williams and asked her about how this fund has helped the center, and the community.

How does the Berin Centre support people and the local community?

“We provide a wide range of services for the local community, including children’s activities, community outreach, Citizens Advice, a food bank, parenting courses and courses to aid the promotion of health and wellbeing.

Young children in the village are also invited to join our “Growing Minds” project, working in partnership with PEEPLE, Homestart and Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. The programme supports families from bump to age 5 getting children ready for further education. Each child that signs up receives a free monthly book delivered to their home, are invited to attend the weekly Peep Learning Together sessions, run by the Early Years Team at the centre and have 1:1 support available to them when they need it from our Family Services Coordinator. The Centre also provides open play sessions for “Bumps and Babies” and a “Stay and Play” for older children. The “Stay and Play” sessions attract approximately thirteen families per session. We run two “Stay and Play” sessions each week.

In addition to our regular weekly activities, we also host a range of seasonal activities throughout the year. For example, last year we had a summer BBQ and hosted a Halloween party.

Our community outreach activities include employability courses and IT literacy, supported by the local college. In the summer we provide Lawn games on the Church Green, this group moves into the Sports Centre throughout the winter months, ensuring continuity for the attendees, we run a monthly craft group and host women’s multicultural evenings twice monthly. These all have a strong community feel and regular attendance of around twelve to sixteen people.

We provide a weekly venue and staffing for the Community Larder, which enables families access to affordable food and helps the environment by reducing landfill waste.

Riverside Counselling use the centre daily to facilitate one to one counselling sessions for adults struggling with their mental health issues.

Finally, as we host Citizens Advice in the centre, their expertise is able to assist people with claiming benefits and working through any legal issues.”

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Why is your work important?

“Berinsfield is a rural community and has very few local amenities. Access to public transport is poor and there are a lot of vulnerable families and individuals. The Berin Centre provides a central place for people to access essential day to day support, and a social hub to meet up with other like-minded people.”

  • Berinsfield is relatively deprived according to the English Indices of Deprivation 2019: areas of Berinsfield are within the 50% and 40% most deprived LSOAs nationally.
  • On the education, skills and training domain there is one area of Berinsfield in the most deprived 10% nationally and another area in the 20% most deprived.
  • In terms of Income Deprivation affecting children, areas in Berinsfield rank within the 30% most deprived LSOAs nationally.
  • End Child Poverty 2019 estimates that Berinsfield has 19% of children living in poverty (after housing costs).”  (source Oxfordshire JSNA November 2020)
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What challenges do you face?

“Funding is our largest issue. Originally our services were funded via the local council, however the centre was under threat of closure when support was terminated around 2015.

Local fundraising from the community is very small scale as a lot of families are less affluent than the national average. We therefore rely on fixed grants and donations from various sources, including the Oxfordshire Community Foundation, district council, and trusts. Currently our target for funding is just over £150,000 per annum. This supports all activities, staff salaries and building costs such as heating.”

How has Oxfordshire Community Foundation supported The Berin Centre?

“The Berin Centre, previously known as Employment Action Group, has worked with Oxfordshire Community Foundation since 2016. Recently, we received funds to help us combat loneliness and isolation in the area, helping us to part fund our outreach coordinator and the activities that they provide. We also received funds for the Growing Minds programme, which we previously mentioned helping to support families from birth.”

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What would have happened had you not been supported by Oxfordshire Community Foundation?

“If we had not received the funds we would have had to find them elsewhere or we would have closed down some or all of the activities. To be able to continue with our current support offerings the funding has been critical.”

What are your plans for the future?

“We hope to expand our current programmes to reach more people in the community, and are in the process of starting a community cafe at the centre. This is a huge challenge and will be very welcome in the village as it will provide a central place for people to meet and share a drink or a meal together. It is hoped that the cafe will also provide educational opportunities through cooking lessons and a training programmes employing school leavers – setting them up with transferable skills and experience to give them the confidence to find permanent employment.”

If people want to find out more about The Berin Centre, what should they do?

“They can visit and talk to our team, they can email us at [email protected] or call the centre team on 01865 341 944. We also have a website and a facebook page where you can find out more about our community and services.

If you are local, we also advertise our services on the notice boards and through organisations such as the health centre, social club and church.”

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Oxfordshire Community Foundation

About Oxfordshire Community Foundation

Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) is a charity that builds thriving communities through effective philanthropy. For over 25 years we’ve improved lives and tackled inequality by investing in our dynamic charitable sector. We distribute around £2million in grants every year across Oxfordshire. We work with philanthropists, businesses and the public sector, pooling funds to make a bigger difference together.

For an insight into the work of Oxfordshire Community Foundation take a look at our recently published report, Oxfordshire Uncovered, that shines a light on the most vulnerable people in our county. Take a look at our website for more impact stories to show the difference a grant from OCF can make, thanks to generous funders such as RWK Goodman. For any other questions don’t hesitate to email [email protected].

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