Homeless Oxfordshire supports and guides people along a one-way journey out of homelessness, towards fulfilling futures.
Homeless Oxfordshire provides holistic services to people at all stages of homelessness, starting with the immediate needs of rough sleepers: safety, shelter and a satisfying meal at their 56-bed hostel O’Hanlon House. This is combined with frontline medical care via their Luther Street Medical Centre, and referrals to a range of other services from other charities, such as addiction support, counselling, training and work experience.
As a homeless person starts to help themselves out of their situation, Homeless Oxfordshire assists with resettlement and second-stage move-on accommodation in the community across 28 properties.
OCF had been talking to a philanthropist who was keen to understand where their funding could have the biggest impact on homelessness. Discussions with the charity, the donor and others in the sector led to an interest in move-on accommodation. This enables those who have secured employment following a period of homelessness to move into housing within the community.
However, due to the lack of affordable housing available, the reality is that earned income is rarely sufficient to cover the full cost of private rental accommodation. In such circumstances, Homeless Oxfordshire provides a rent subsidy to make up the difference between actual rent payable, and the amount of housing benefit received.
Homeless Oxfordshire calculated that a charitable donation of around £30,000 per year would sustain eight individuals currently living in one-bedroom flats at Edith Kempson House, covering their rent subsidies in full.
This funding has helped individuals like Ali, who became homeless following a mental health crisis and the breakdown of his relationship. He was initially housed at O’Hanlon House and experienced acute anxiety, and lacked any motivation. Homeless Oxfordshire’s Community Engagement Worker encouraged Ali to visit a local animal sanctuary, and this sparked an interest resulting in him volunteering as a dog walker. As his confidence increased, Ali began participating in several in-house activities and enrolled on Construction Safety Card training, where he gained a construction qualification. He then moved into Edith Kempson House and achieved stability. He received support to become work ready, and after six months found a job and moved out of homelessness.
This funding was offered to Homeless Oxfordshire in a more collaborative and proactive way than via the usual grant application process. OCF was able to match an engaged donor with a leading organisation in the sector, and worked with a volunteer assessor who had extensive experience of charity management to provide regular updates to the donor on progress. This included frequent meetings between OCF and the charity’s management team, who were able to reassure us about the general direction of the organisation, and were given the space to speak honestly about the difficulties they faced. OCF was willing to take a risk and offer an unrestricted contribution, with the support of a forward-thinking donor.