Oxford City Council has secured 124 rooms of interim housing for the next year, meaning that there need be no return to the streets for former rough sleepers currently housed in hotels and student blocks.
Street homelessness has been on the increase since the turn of the decade and continues to hit record levels in England, including Oxford. Street counts can only offer a partial snapshot of who is sleeping rough, and despite increased budget for tackling rough sleeping, this number continues to increase.
A different approach is needed.
Oxford Homeless Movement is a new citywide partnership of public, private and charitable organisations with the vision that nobody should have to sleep rough on our streets. By working together, the partnership aims to help people off the streets and keep them off the streets.
A citywide charter to ensure ‘nobody should have to sleep rough on our streets’ has been co-created by Oxford’s homelessness agencies, charities, voluntary organisations and the city council, and anyone can sign up to the charter on the website.
The website oxfordhomelessmovement.org.uk also explains the vision of the partnership and brings together details of all the services available locally. It provides guidance for local homeless people by giving one place to find the details of all the groups and organisations that can offer help and services – answering questions from ‘I am about to be evicted’ through to ‘I need a shower and clothing’. It also links those who want to offer help, showing how they can get involved by donating their time, money, items or by sharing their ideas.
An advisory group made up of people who have experienced rough sleeping and who are either now working for or are supported by local agencies will take a leadership role in Oxford Homeless Movement. This inclusive approach is key to the success of the partnership.
OCF is a founding partner in Oxford Homeless Movement and is hosting and managing their charitable fund. With its history, expertise and infrastructure in place, OCF was the natural place to hold any funds raised by the Movement.
There will be a collective fundraising effort under the Oxford Homeless Movement banner and the money raised will:
- be shared between the homelessness charities that are members of Oxford Homeless Movement
- help provide more services at the assessment centre and shelter now open in Floyds Row
- kickstart a new Impact Fund designed to develop new initiatives that fill critical gaps between services reducing rough sleeping.
Two projects, supported by funds raised through Oxford Homeless Movement, are aiming to help homeless and vulnerably housed people transition successfully from emergency Covid-19 accommodation to an independent life in their own self-supported housing.