Feb 7, 2018 · 5 min read

By running educational services with us, our volunteers fundraise for charities of their choice. Since OxFizz was founded in 2007, our volunteers have raised nearly £1m in charity donations.

We’re proud of the social impact our volunteers have — so from now until April we’ll be publishing blogs on their charities. We hope you find inspiration in what follows.


The second of these posts comes from volunteer Shanika Ranasinghe, who has raised over £3000 for Fairbeats! since joining OxFizz.

Shanika, how did you first get involved in OxFizz?

I first got involved with OxFizz in Autumn 2011, after seeing a Facebook advert. I wanted to put the training and skills I learned at Oxford to good use, but to do this as part of an organisation that felt in line with my values. I love OxFizz’s model, and have been volunteering ever year since!

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Tell me about the charity you donate to:

Fairbeats! — I first came across them through Jenn, the co-founder, who was a colleague of mine in 2013. I knew she was very passionate about getting young people to make music, and ran a project to this effect outside her usual job.

Fairbeats! offers musical opportunities to child refugees, asylum seekers, and migrants — some of whom may struggle to articulate themselves in English at first. Music can often express what we can’t put into words, and I truly believe in the practical powers of music to change and shape individuals and communities.

This is underlined by the fact that Fairbeats! doesn’t just engage with the children, but their families too. I really believe this holistic ethos allows them to have a wider impact.

And why did you choose them to donate to?

Aside from the fact that I am so proud of the invaluable work Jenn and others are doing, I also know that Fairbeats! has only gained charity status fairly recently. It is a small charity, local to a few London boroughs, which depends on regular forms of donations in order to be sustainable.

Indeed, I know that the money I have raised through OxFizz has enabled Fairbeats! to attract new funders or ‘matched donations’.

Jenn, how did Fairbeats! come about?

Fairbeats’ co-founder Catherine and I were interest in the social impact of music, and widening access to communities who face barriers to accessing music activities and opportunities.

We did some needs analysis in our local area and found Action for Refugees in Lewisham that had little in terms of sustained music and arts provision. So we set about embedding a culture of music at their supplementary school and then expanded using a similar partnership model with two other community centres in Kingston and Wandsworth.

What is the impact of Fairbeats! work?

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All of the children we work with are from refugee, asylum seeker or migrant families, and some are very recent arrivals. At the moment we are working with several Syrian families. They often face wider issues like homelessness, destitution, and social isolation

We measure our impact not only by musical outcomes, but personal and social ones too. We see children progress learning to play musical instruments, but also the further benefits this brings — like confidence, perseverance, new friendships, and feeling better connected.

What motivates you personally to be involved?

I am driven by two big beliefs. First, that music is an incredibly powerful thing that can act as a lifeline for communities, and we should prevent it becoming a luxury. Second, I really believe in the power of small charities to make a difference — that progress can come from a grassroots level.

What are the barriers to growing your impact?

At the moment we are working out a strategy for growing our model — we’re working out where to go next, whether that be working more in depth with the children we currently support, or expanding our services to more children.

One thing that really helps in these conversations is knowing that we have reliable income streams. That’s why Shanika is so incredible for her year-on-year support!

Why should OxFizz volunteers consider donating to you?

I know there are so many excellent charities for people to choose from. What I would say is that we are very unique — to our knowledge we are the only charity in London working in this way, with these communities. I would also point out that music and the arts in particular are under significant pressure right now, so it’s important to support charities like us so we don’t end up with only wealthy people accessing music.

A question for you both: how else can Fairbeats! be supported by OxFizz volunteers?

Shanika — If you have any musical talents, why not be in touch with Fairbeats! to see if there’s anyway you can help out?

Jenn — One of the most helpful things you can is spread the word — whether that be sharing this blog, or speaking to other people about us. We rely on people understanding our work and seeing its importance.

If you have a particular interest in joining out community, that would be fantastic! We are currently growing our Board of Trustees, and we would welcome expressions from interest from anyone who has legal expertise, who has worked in the music/arts, or who has experience in strategy and business planning; fundraising, or HR. You can read a job description for our Chair of Trustees positions here.

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If you want to find out more about Fairbeats!, you can visit their website here.

If you are interested in volunteering for Fairbeats!, or applying for a position on their Board, please contact Jenn on fairbeats@gmail.com

If you are interested in fundraising through OxFizz, please contact Lee on lee.robertson@oxfizz.org

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