The Westgate Fund has been instrumental in Oxfordshire Community Foundation raising an unprecedented amount to help homeless people in Oxford over the 2018–19 Christmas period.

A match funding campaign was launched on 10th December, offering generous members of the public a 1:1 match on any donations to Oxford Poverty Action Trust (OxPAT) until Sunday 6th January. OxPAT is a local charity with a 20-year history of giving funding to the key charities helping homeless people in Oxford.

The total of £86,000 is now being distributed between nine different charities that provide support with physical and mental health issues, access to benefits and accommodation, workplace skills and much more, bringing about lasting improvements and helping change people’s lives.

Along with two other major OCF donors, The Westgate Fund contributed £7,500 to the match fund of £43,000. This has encouraged the public to give an equal amount in donations and Gift Aid, raising an impressive total of £86,000, shared equally between the following charities:

  • Aspire Oxford
  • Crisis Skylight Oxford
  • Elmore Community Services
  • Emmaus Oxford
  • Homeless Oxfordshire
  • SMART/CJS (Howard House)
  • Simon House
  • The Oxford Street Population Outreach Team
  • The Porch

Speaking to the Oxford Mail, Paul Roberts, CEO of one of the beneficiary organisations Aspire Oxford, said the funding was vital to help organisations ‘to collectively respond to Oxfordshire’s growing homeless crisis’. He added: “The money raised will enable Aspire to support homeless people into employment, prevent vulnerable people from slipping into homelessness and support rough sleepers into secure housing.”

OCF is delighted with the fantastic response to our Christmas Match Fund appeal to help homeless people in Oxford this winter, which proves what we knew already – that people in Oxford are compassionate and generous, and really want to help tackle this distressing problem.

However, we want to make it easier for people to help – either by giving their money or their time. We feel our campaign has only scratched the surface of the potential to tackle homelessness in this city, and we want to reach every person with a desire to help.

OCF is continuing to work on this issue in 2019 – in particular through our partnership to tackle rough sleeping, currently known as the City Conversation. This partnership is linking up charities, businesses, councils, the police and the universities to come up with a city-wide response to homelessness, encouraging more collaborative working between the different agencies. The partnership is taking on board best practice from other places to do this.

One initiative will include more streamlined ways to give, such as through contactless touchpoints in the city centre.

Find out more about The Westgate Fund