Category Archives: News

Media release – Businesses in South and Vale urged to submit COVID-19 grant requests

Businesses in South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse that are yet to submit their detailsfor grant support in response to COVID-19 are being urged to do so as soon as possible.

More than 65 per cent of businesses based in southern Oxfordshire have already submitted their details and South Oxfordshire District Council and Vale of White Horse District Council have promised all those who have done so, and are eligible for support, that they will receive their grant money by 30 April. 

However, with just under 35 per cent of businesses still to submit their details, the councils are urging all those who haven’t already done so, and who need funding support, to go to their respective council’s website and complete the online form.

So far more than 2,500 businesses have submitted their details for the grants which are available to help those affected by the Coronavirus pandemic.  By the close of play on Monday 20 April, the two councils will have paid out more than £15million in grant funding to local businesses.

For more information and to confirm your eligibility for a Small Business Grant please go to:

Cllr Leigh Rawlins, Cabinet Member for Finance at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “We know this is an extremely challenging and worrying time for many people. However, we would urge business owners who are struggling and have not submitted their details for the available grant to get in touch.”

Cllr Andy Crawford, Cabinet Member for Finance at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Our team is working hard to provide urgent assistance to businesses badly affected by the pandemic. Unfortunately, it has affected many businesses very suddenly meaning we’ve had a huge number of submissions to deal with in a very short period of time. We are pleased to say that they are being processed and businesses are starting to receive this funding.”  

Additional information for businesses about the grants

Businesses receiving Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief who wish to receive grants of £10,000 are required to provide information via the form on their respective council website. Awards will be considered in accordance with government guidelines.

Businesses which are in receipt of the Enhanced Retail Discount for 2020/21 and have a rateable value of up to £15,000 which are not covered by the Small Business Grant Fund will also receive a grant of £10,000, in accordance with Government guidelines. Retail Leisure and Hospitality business properties with a rateable value of up to £50,999 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Businesses are eligible for a grant on more than one property, providing they meet the criteria.  However, they must submit a separate form for each property.

Please note – it may take several days for grant money issued to appear in businesses bank accounts.

If you are self-employed and in urgent need of financial assistance the government has advised that you should apply for Universal Credit  and Council Tax Reduction.  This will provide you with support until a grant for the self-employed becomes available in June.

Vale of White Horse District Council update

Dear town and parish council colleagues,

Here’s our latest update with news and information from the district council.

Community Support work

We’re coming to the end of the third week of providing our Community Support service for members of our communities who need help and we’re pleased to report that we’ve been very successful in helping those who have contacted us in need.

In the first two weeks alone, we supported more than 324 residents, most of whom contacted us directly for help. These tend be residents that fall under the high-risk shielded threshold, cannot get help from family, friends or neighbours and are not connected to a community group.

The thing people need most help with is getting shopping supplies, followed by help collecting prescriptions.

We’re successfully working closely with the huge network of community volunteers who help us fulfil most of the requests for help we receive. We are connected with volunteers working in all but one of our towns and parishes and we wouldn’t be able to do it without them.

To keep these incredible volunteers safe, we prepared the attached guidance to help them go about their work safely, and to say a huge thank you, our staff produced a video of personal messages, which we sent to all of our community groups – you can watch here:

Finally, in the next few weeks we want to make sure as many people as possible who need the service can find out about it, so we’re running a social media campaign with some videos based on specific examples of people we have helped so far. Keep an eye on our social media accounts and please do share the messages.  Here’s our first post about it on Twitter and here’s one on Facebook

Access to our parks

We have a role in making sure the public are properly following the government’s social distancing guidelines – particularly when they’re in our parks, which we’ve kept open to allow people to do their daily exercise. 

The vast majority of our residents who are using our parks are doing so responsibly and following the guidelines, however there are few who still aren’t sticking to the restrictions, so we’ve come up with a creative solution to remind people of the rules.  We’ve used a special, harmless chalk-based paint to spray paint some reminder messages on the footpaths near our park entrances. The paint will naturally wear away in a few weeks, and we can wash it off quickly if the guidance changes.

Coronavirus Update from Gold Commander

Hi, I’m Chief Superintendent Christian Bunt and I am the Gold commander for Thames Valley Police’s response to the Coronavirus pandemic.

I want to start by saying how much I and all of my officers appreciate how the vast majority of our communities are understanding of the importance of staying at home to protect our critical NHS resources and save lives, so thank you.

Given that, we can understand how frustrating it must be when you look around and see what you perceive to be people not following these guidelines as you have been at no small sacrifice to you and your way of life.

We are receiving hundreds of reports every day relating to COVID related breaches and over the last 7 days alone we have deployed officers to over 1100 incidents.

We must prioritise incidents as they come into us and that includes putting these reports alongside our normal calls for service including serious crime and responding to emergency and non-emergency calls. It is essential that we continue to protect our communities in line with our normal policing duties.

Where we have deployed for COVID-related reports, these are primarily to group gatherings that are happening at that time. That is because they pose the greatest health risks by gathering and then dispersing back into our communities. If you see this and it is happening now, call 101. 

With minor breaches, such as people reporting those who have taken multiple walks in a day, we may not be responding right there and then but that doesn’t mean we are ignoring them. Your reports help to provide vital information around patterns and hotspots which then go across to our local policing teams to inform their patrol plans. Please report minor breaches to us online.

We want to make sure we are visible, provide reassurance and be a deterrent to those who think these rules don’t apply to them. Encouraging or enforcing the social distancing measures is a priority for the force and we have dedicated patrols in place to do this. We keep this under constant review and where we need to apply more resources we have done that and will continue to do so.

Please be reassured that Thames Valley Police is playing its role in this public health emergency. To reiterate the Chief Constable’s message this week, we will always look to engage, explain and encourage people to comply but where we need to we will enforce – and we have been doing that. Thames Valley Police currently has issued the second highest number of fines in the country.

Thank you again for all that you are doing at this challenging time. You really demonstrate the community spirit of Thames Valley, an area we are so proud to police.

Thank you.
Chief Superintendent Christian Bunt, Gold Commander

To view the full video, please click the following link:

Thames Water extra support – update in light of Covid 19

Thames Water Communication: supporting customers and communities in light of Covid 19:

“These are difficult times for all of us, and now it’s even more important we do what we can to support the most vulnerable.

We would like to inform people in your communities about our free priority services register. We invite our customers to share their individual needs with us, so we can tailor our communications with them, improve their resilience and prioritise how we help them if their water stops. You can find out more about our service, here.

Of course, we work hard to try and ensure water never stops flowing but from time to time, things can go wrong. In these events, we try to deliver bottled water to people with water-dependent medical conditions (i.e. at-home dialysis) and to those with mobility issues, first of all.

We understand a huge number of people are self-isolating because of the coronavirus at the moment, and although we’d love to be able to deliver water to every home, it’s sadly not possible. We recommend that anyone at-risk and/or self-isolating who needs water supplying to them reaches out to friends, family members or neighbours to help.

If they have a pre-existing health condition or mobility issue, or nobody can deliver water along with their groceries, they should join our register and we’ll always try to help.

If you would like more details on the priority services and how we can support your communities’ resilience please email

Thank you and please take care”.

Cornerstone and The Beacon are here for you #AtHome

Arts and entertainment in South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse have gone online! If you’re struggling to keep the kids entertained, or you’re fed up with endlessly scrolling through uninspiring choices on video streaming services, Cornerstone Arts Centre and The Beacon are here to help.

South Oxfordshire and the Vale of White Horse district councils’ Arts Development team has pulled together a host of free, entertaining and exciting online content to keep boredom at bay.

Cornerstone – keeping you entertained

Cornerstone is providing a full #CornerstoneAtHome schedule of great theatre, music and comedy shows all streamed online for free. 

Family fun with daily story time – join at 4pm each day for the latest instalment of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, read by Jessie Coller (Cornerstone Arts Centre’s Arts Development Officer), or watch each session in your own time.

Also, on, find out about special National Theatre shows available to watch for free for a limited period on YouTube, including One Man Two Guvnors and Jane Eyre.

If it’s classes that you’re after, make sure you visit to find out how you can get involved with online video sessions – over the coming weeks you can try your hand at classes from theatre to photography. Alongside this they will be offering everyone the chance to check out some truly unique specially commissioned interactive content – don’t miss out! 

While you’re on Cornerstone’s website don’t forget to look at some of the great online art that our Arts Development team is showcasing – such as the virtual gallery of Sudden Portals, William Cotterill’s latest paintings, objects and prints.

The Beacon – there for the local community

Visit and for #BeaconAtHome, including world class theatre online and some special performances from our favourite local acts. There will also be new online classes and groups for you and your family to enjoy from home courtesy of their regular hirers.

Check out the gallery at of the famous Rainbow illustrations, made by children in the local area this display is guaranteed to put a smile on people’s faces. 

Popular covers band, The Zoots were scheduled to play The Beacon on Saturday 18 April – instead, Jamie from the band will now be performing a special 60s and 70s live acoustic set from his garage on The Zoots Facebook page at 7.30pm: – fans can requests songs in advance.

You can also find out about the online classes and content provided by local groups, and resources and information about providing practical help in the community.

Despite the uncertainty of this period it has given our district Arts community an opportunity to work together. Starting with the #MakeALeaf project in partnership with Didcot Garden Town asking us all to create leaves in whatever form, the size of your hand at most to be hung on a display tree in Cornerstone Arts Centre when we are out of lockdown. Initiating creative projects to unite us all and provide social interaction across both the districts when we need it most.

Cllr Maggie Filipova-Rivers, Cabinet Member for Community Services at South Oxfordshire District Council, said: “Our venues and arts development service are working together to provide advice and support to our artistic community, to profile the amazing creativity that is now happening behind closed doors, and to bring our community closer together through our online #AtHome art and entertainment.

Cllr Helen Pighills, Cabinet Member for Community Services at Vale of White Horse District Council, said: “Our community venues and arts service have a vital role to play to encourage creativity, keep us entertained, and provide a much-needed distraction via #BeaconAtHome and #CornerstoneAtHome.  We promise we will continue to do our best to provide arts, entertainment and community spirit for people across the South and Vale communities.”

Notes to Editors: For more information, interview requests or high res images, please contact 

Social Media Links:

Hashtag: #CornerstoneAtHome & #TheBeaconAtHome

Websites: cornerstone.arts-org,

Facebook: CornerstoneDidcot

Twitter: @CornerstoneFUN

Instagram: cornerstoneartscentre

Update from the Arts Council

We are sharing the latest updates from the Arts Council Covid-19 Emergency Response Package.

If you are an artist, creative practitioner, freelancer or part of a bigger organisation you might be eligible to apply to the Art Council emergency fund . The emergency response funds are open to individuals and organisations who aren’t part of the Arts Council National Portfolio.

To know more please visit the ARTS COUNCIL ENGLAND website.

Updated scam advice for residents -charity worker scams

Oxfordshire residents have been warned to be on their guard against criminals and scammers exploiting the coronavirus situation.

Some scammers are claiming to be charity workers, offering assistance with shopping, or requesting donations.

Here are some tips from our Trading Standards team on how to check charity workers are genuine (graphic attached for social media and websites):

How to check if they are genuine:

  • Check the charity’s name and registration number at Most charities with an annual income of £5,000 or more must be registered.
  • Make sure the charity is genuine before giving any financial information – it’s ok to decide not to give on the spot. Be wary of unsolicited emails from charities you have never heard of and be careful when responding to emails or clicking on links within them.
  • Exercise the same caution as with any other internet transaction, for example, to donate online. Visit the charity’s own website and always type the website address into the browser yourself.
  • Contact or find out more online about the charity that you’re seeking to donate to or work with, to find out more about their spending. Ask a trusted friend, neighbour or relative if you are unable to research this or need a second opinion.
  • Ignore requests to donate through a money transfer company.

Full details and advice from our Trading Standards team here:



Dear Neighbourhood Watch supporters,

We continue to think about you all at this difficult time. In response we hope you have been able to connect with your neighbours to support each other through this crisis. 
At Neighbourhood Watch we have seen a 25% increase in membership. We have published a special edition of ‘Our News’ (the e-newsletter for Neighbourhood Watch supporters) to welcome our new members, look at how Neighbourhood Watch brings communities together, ways existing groups are supporting their communities through the COVID-19 pandemic and more things you can do such as establishing a phone tree, and how to avoid and report crimes and scams.

Read the e-newsletter by following this link or viewing it on our website.

Keep safe, stay at home.

NEIGHBOURHOOD WATCH NETWORK  | Building Safer and Stronger Communities

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Oxfordshire hand it back COVID-19 campaign


NRS HealthCare is asking people to return health care equipment they no longer need.

If you have been loaned equipment that you no longer need…
Much of this equipment could be recycled and reused. It helps us get the equipment to the people who need it.We need chairs, beds, wheeled commodes, mattresses, any electrical items,bed rails, walking & toilet frames, telecare items and slings.
If you have other equipment to return, please keep hold of it and contact us after the COVID-19 virus.
Please Hand it Back.

If you want to Hand Back some equipment and would like to arrange a collection, please call NRS Healthcare on:
01869 225 420 during opening hours
8.30am–4.30pm Monday to Friday

Or email your details to: