Since the Government’s ‘everyone in’ initiative in response to COVID-19, partners in Oxfordshire Homeless Movement have worked tirelessly to keep people off the streets. Oxford City Council and partners have now helped more than 250 former rough sleepers into settled housing since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Street homelessness has been on the increase since the turn of the decade and continues to hit record levels in England, including Oxfordshire, and in particular in the city. 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.
Oxfordshire Homeless Movement is a county wide 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.
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, is taking a leadership role in Oxfordshire Homeless Movement. This inclusive approach is key to the success of the partnership.
Their website oxfordshirehomelessmovement.org explains the vision of the partnership and brings together details of all the services available locally. It provides guidance for people experiencing homelessness locally 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.
A charter to ensure ‘nobody should have to sleep rough on our streets’ has been co-created by Oxfordshire’s homelessness agencies, charities, voluntary organisations and the city council. It sets out Oxfordshire Homeless Movement’s guiding principles for helping people who sleep rough in Oxfordshire and anyone who is at risk of street homelessness. Add your voice and show your support by signing the charter.
OCF is a founding partner in Oxfordshire 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. OCF will distribute all money raised as directed by Oxfordshire Homeless Movement.
The Movement’s fundraising objective is to develop new initiatives that fill critical gaps between services in order to reduce, or better still prevent, rough sleeping.
Funds raised so far have:
- been shared between the homelessness charities that are members of Oxfordshire Homeless Movement
- helped develop the gardens at the assessment centre and shelter in Floyds Row
- set up a new impact fund, which has supported two projects using a housing-led approach
- paid for a Lived Experience Advisory Forum Coordinator to ensure that the voices that matter the most are front and centre
- been put towards a project that fills a gap to house and support those people locally who have no recourse to public funds
Oxfordshire Homeless Movement’s priorities are in finding lasting solutions to homelessness. Currently, this includes raising further funds to support people who cannot access any government-funded services due to their country of origin; ensuring that that the voices of those with lived experience of homelessness are at the heart of local decision-making; and supporting housing first projects, like those showcased with the Earl of Wessex visit, by providing the funds to allow finishing touches to be given to accommodation to turn it into a real home.
OHM brings greater visibility to all Oxfordshire’s work in the area of homelessness, guiding volunteers, supporters and homeless people alike to the actions or services they’re looking for. You can find the latest information created by the partnership at the bottom of the page.
As temporary accommodation at Canterbury House had to be handed back, five people with no recourse to public funds were at risk of returning to rough sleeping. Thanks to a rapid response from University College and other partners in Oxfordshire Homeless Movement, these people are now safely housed.