Oxford had the chance to showcase the innovative support provided for people experiencing homelessness in the city with a visit from HRH The Earl of Wessex. Partners from Oxfordshire Homeless Movement greeted The Earl and shared how local organisations had adapted their work in response to 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.
A 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 oxfordshirehomelessmovement.org 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 is taking a leadership role in Oxfordshire Homeless Movement. This inclusive approach is key to the success of the partnership.
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.
The project will help people experiencing homelessness who are not eligible for any public funds due to their immigration status – which effectively leaves them destitute. Oxfordshire Homeless Movement is raising funds to support these people to lead productive lives in Oxfordshire.