A campaign was launched by OCF in December 2018, offering to match any public donations to Oxford Poverty Action Trust (OxPAT) pound for pound until January. OxPAT is a local charity with a 20-year history of giving funding to the key charities helping homeless people in Oxford. The total of £86,000 has now been distributed between nine different charities.
These organisations all support homeless or vulnerably housed people locally. They have each now received over £9,500 to help them in their work. The nine charities are:
- Aspire Oxford
- Crisis Skylight Oxford
- Elmore Community Services
- Emmaus Oxford
- Homeless Oxfordshire
- SMART/CJS (Howard House)
- Simon House
- The Oxford Street Population Outreach Team
- The Porch
Some of the practical ways the charities have helped include – specialist employment support and benefits advice sessions; providing an accompanied day trip to allow the homeless members a break from their usual routines; job finding and accommodation support for a client who had been sleeping rough in a field; purchasing equipment for individuals to complete a course or that is required for work; acting as a rental guarantor and paying extra tenancy fees; paying for travel costs to new accommodation or courses.
Each of the nine organisations has stories to share of how they have helped individuals over the winter. Often it is difficult to give specific details as individuals need to be protected, but they still give a picture of the type of support being offered. Collectively these simple stories of help create a wave of response which changes lives. To break the cycle of homelessness small actions need to have lasting effects – to support homeless people into employment, prevent vulnerable people from slipping into homelessness and support rough sleepers into secure housing.
This campaign has shown that people in Oxford are compassionate and generous, and really want to help tackle the problem of homelessness. OCF will continue its work on this issue, through research, funding and particularly through our partnership work. OCF is a member of a partnership in Oxford that aims to tackle rough sleeping through greater collaboration between the public, private and charitable sectors.
Oxford Homeless Movement, previously known as the City Conversation on Rough Sleeping, has brought together over 35 organisations working with homeless people locally. It is planning to make it easier for people to help. Oxford Homeless Movement will be launching a new website, which aims to give very clear information about existing homelessness services for anyone who needs help, as well as anyone who wants to offer help – in whichever way they want – giving their time or money or donating specific items. People and organisations will also be able to sign up to the Movement’s charter online, with the view that homelessness and rough sleeping are issues that everyone can help to solve, and that if we all work together, we can make a real difference.