As OCF welcomes the official launch of Oxford Homeless Movement this week on World Homeless Day, we highlight the difference personal experience can make. Oxford Homeless Movement is a new citywide partnership of local public, private and charitable organisations to fulfill the vision that nobody should have to sleep rough on our streets. Can this experience help ‘solve’ homelessness in Oxford?
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. By working together in a new way, Oxford Homeless Movement aims to help people off the streets and keep them off the streets.
So far, the Movement has:
- created a website to link those who want to offer their support with the organisations or individuals that are providing support to people experiencing rough sleeping. It also offers guidance to those who need help and may not know where to go
- agreed a citywide charter to ensure nobody should have to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford, co-created by Oxford’s homelessness agencies, charities, voluntary organisations and the city council, which anyone can sign up to on the website
- started a collective fundraising effort under the Oxford Homeless Movement banner, which will include a new Impact Fund designed to close the critical gaps in Oxford’s response to reduce rough sleeping.
OCF is a key partner in Oxford Homeless Movement and is hosting and managing their charitable fund.
The Oxford Homeless Movement advisory group, also launching this week, is made up of people who have experienced rough sleeping and who are either now working for or supported by local agencies. The group will take a leadership role in the Movement. Fran from Aspire is one of the people in this lived experience advisory group. Two years ago Fran was homeless. Now she is working for Aspire as part of a team preventing others from becoming homeless. Her inspirational story of giving back shows the difference personal experience makes.
As Fran says: “I know from being homeless that so many people can get trapped in the cycle and it’s really hard to get out. I’m very privileged to be part of the Trailblazer team and working on homelessness prevention because I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through. Aspire is like my family. They do such great work and I feel really privileged to wear the Aspire hat!”
OCF also supports Aspire’s trailblazer homelessness prevention project and is seeking match funding for this through the Good Exchange.