OCF hosted a webinar this week, focusing on the opportunities to tackle homelessness, following the national ‘everyone in’ policy at the start of lockdown. The webinar, timed in the week of World Homeless Day, also looked at how the partners in Oxfordshire Homeless Movement are responding locally.
During the COVID-19 lockdown, all rough sleepers in Oxford and beyond were brought in from the streets and accommodated in hotels and hostels, seemingly ending rough sleeping overnight. Long-term solutions now need to be found, and with an economic crisis looming, there is a danger that yet more people will experience the trauma of becoming homeless. The webinar considered lessons learnt from recent events and how Oxfordshire Homeless Movement is creating opportunities from the crisis.
The webinar had a presentation from Imogen Blood, who has managed a Housing Led Feasibility Study for Oxfordshire. Crisis, Oxfordshire County Council and the five district councils have jointly funded and commissioned the study. Housing led approaches or what is also known as ‘rapid rehousing’ is an approach to ending someone’s homelessness by moving them into their own home as soon as possible. Imogen explained how the study has strengthened the case for such an approach, when it is delivered with the right support and co-ordination of resources.
Paul Roberts, CEO of Aspire Oxford, spoke about the importance of a partnership approach to the complex issue of homelessness, and how Oxfordshire Homeless Movement is best placed to serve that role. Monica Gregory, Service Development Project Worker at The Gatehouse and co-chair of Oxfordshire Homeless Movement’s Lived Experience Advisory Forum (LEAF), gave her personal insight into why the voice of those who have experienced homelessness is key to the planning of support services.
To recognise World Homeless Day and World Mental Health Day on the 10th October, Oxfordshire Homeless Movement joined local mental health partners in a Head and Home Together campaign. A video created by the Movement, for this campaign, was shown at the start of the webinar. It told the story of Sam, a local young man, why he became homeless, what he does to support his mental health and how moving into supported accommodation has made such a difference to his life.
The video serves to reduce the stigma surrounding those experiencing homelessness and make people understand that these are real people. By recording a personal story, they also hope to capture their resilience and strength, as well as explaining vital local support given.