Decision Maker

Oxford City Council

Oxford City Council is the democratically-elected district council for Oxford. In partnership with others, we provide services for residents, businesses, visitors and people who work in the city.


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Victory
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Don't make life harder for Oxford's rough sleepers

So it looks like Oxford City Council has decided that rough sleeping isn’t hard enough as it is. They are proposing a ban on various 'anti-social activities' in the city centre (by using new 'public spaces protection order' powers, PSPOs). One of the activities Oxford City plan to ban and criminalise is “rough sleeping”. We at On Your Doorstep believe that the proposed ban is an unacceptable cover up of the huge housing and homelessness crisis that Oxford faces. We feel that this policy glosses over the long term issue of homelessness and are discriminates against Oxford’s rough sleepers. PSPOs were not designed to target groups of vulnerable people. Rough sleeping in itself should not be a crime.  We are therefore calling on the council to remove rough sleeping from the list of behaviours which they seek to ban. Criminalising rough sleeping in the city centre will only increase (already high) levels of stigma surrounding Oxford's homeless population. It privileges the appearance of Oxford over its' citizens' wellbeing, and risks treating rough sleepers as a problem to be dealt with, as an inconvenience, as a threat, rather than as individual human beings. Oxford has done great work supporting homeless people up until this point, we do not want the council to undo this incredible work by introducing this ban. We have seen public pressure stop homelessness from being glossed over in Westminster and in Manchester. We know that if you join us in the fight we can stop this from happening in Oxford as well. The final decisions will be made in June. We have to show the council, before then, that we do not support their proposal. Please take a moment to sign this petition. Let’s make sure that Oxford City Council don’t make rough sleeping harder than it already is!  Note to media: If you would like to contact us please email oydoxford@gmail.com

On Your Doorstep Oxford
71,840 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Open up Oxford's emergency homeless shelters every freezing winter night to save lives

It is obvious to all those who live, work, and study here, that there is a crisis on the streets of Oxford. Several homeless people have died in this rich and illustrious city so far this Winter, and many of our coldest nights are still to come. As it stands, SWEP (the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol), under which the emergency shelters are opened to rough sleepers, is generally invoked only rarely by the City Council, usually when the weather forecast is for three consecutive nights below zero. But sometimes it doesn't take three nights to kill someone. It didn't take three nights to kill Vikki Cope - she was 43 when she died sleeping rough in Oxford several weeks ago. Homelessness is a national problem, and it will not be solved in Oxford by a change of protocol. But we can do a little to ease suffering. And we can do a little to save lives. When and how often the emergency shelters are opened in Oxford is in the City Council's hands. So let us follow the example of London, where Sadiq Khan has announced the emergency shelters will be opened on every single day with sub-zero temperatures. This is not a revolution, but it is bold, and it will save lives. If London can dare to do this, why not Oxford? Oxford City Council, we implore you to do the right thing and open up the emergency shelters this Winter. We don't have the time to wait for the next person to die. #HomelessFrozenOut

Alex Kumar
38,665 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Don't threaten homeless people with fines

Homeless people sleeping rough in Oxford have been issued with threats of fines of up to £2,500 just for having their sleeping bags and possessions in shop doorways.  Can we get 2,500 signatures - one for every pound Oxford city council wants to fine homeless people? As an Oxford resident for almost 20 years, who also supports Shelter and Crisis, this is an issue so close to my heart, and this is a really terrible thing for the council to have done.  The council's response that this is about fire safety adds fuel to the fire - dehumanising homeless people to the level of walking fire hazards.  The council must withdraw these threats of fines, and stop issuing them to homeless people now.  A clear pattern is developing in the council's attitude towards homeless people - they must stop this now, and if enough of us make a noise about this disgrace, they'll have to act. So please sign now!  "Homeless people putting their possessions in shop doorways in Oxford have been threatened with fines of up to £2,500. Legal notices have been pinned on to bags belonging to rough sleepers, warning that they could be prosecuted by Oxford city council for being in breach of antisocial behaviour laws." - The Guardian, 26 July 2017 This comes in a city where funding is pulled from two important homeless shelters and the same city council is refusing to reopen Lucy Faithfull House. 

Stuart Fowkes
5,617 supporters
Closed
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Help re-open Lucy Faithfull House homeless accommodation

Can you support Iffley Open House in calling on Oxford City Council to do the right thing and to re-open Lucy Faithful House as a night shelter? Last year Lucy Faithful House was forced to close after 30 years of operation as a night shelter serving the homeless of Oxford due to budget cuts. This year further planned closures will mean a total loss in 261 beds for the homeless over the next 12 months across the city.  Meanwhile homelessness has doubled in the last year and cuts to housing support services are making it harder for people to find a safe, secure home in their city. At the Oxford City Council Budget meeting on 20th February we are calling for a vote to save Lucy Faithful House and reinstate it as a vital social service for the homeless. The residents of Iffley Open House, a group that occupied an empty garage in east Oxford on New Year’s eve, is being forced to leave by the 27th February. The building owned by Wadham College has been run as a shelter and social space for and by homeless and rough sleepers. With no alternative the residents will be thrown back on the street on the 27th February in freezing temperatures. We are appealing to the council and wider public to support us in helping to rehouse the residents.    The Council administration want to sell off the Lucy Faithfull House site, most probably for luxury housing BUT there is an opposition amendment which will save the building and restore it as much needed homeless accommodation. The decision will be made at the Oxford City Council meeting on Monday 20th February.   If this petition gets 1500 signatures before the Council meeting then City Councillors will have to debate saving Lucy Faithfull House at the next Council meeting in April.    

Lucy Faithful
3,638 supporters
Petitioning Oxford City Council

Keep the Oxford ice rink car park open

Oxford city council has confirmed it will permanently shut Oxpens Carpark in 2020 after closing 106 spaces in the decked area of the car park this week. The reduction results from the expiry of temporary planning permission for the decking and an extension, which was granted during the construction of the Westgate Centre.From Monday, a further 135 spaces on matting will be removed, leaving just 179 spaces available at the car park where there were 420 spaces a week ago. The original surface-level car park will continue to operate, before being permanently closed next year as part of a multi-million pound redevelopment of the area by the city council in partnership with Nuffield College.The council previously estimated that the remaining 179 spaces would remain open for ‘the next few months’ but has now given a more specific estimate, saying they will stay until autumn 2020. Though redevelopment needs to go ahead this decision and a lack of alternative provisions limits choice and availability of parking in the city centre and disproportionately impacts all users of the cities’ ice rink, including general public, competitive figure and dance skaters and hockey players. The council have suggested that people use alternative parking such as park and ride or cycle, however this is not practical for most of the individuals that train on a daily basis and travel from all over the county to develop and succeed in their sport, in particular several children who are released for short periods from their schooling. Further to this, no consideration has been given to supporting parking provision of national skating competitions held at the rink or home hockey matches, with the council also not consulting or informing permit holders of their plans to secure a sustainable future for the rink and help to develop local talent. Please show your support for retaining parking at the Oxpens site or alternative additional provision near the Ice Rink beyond 2020.

Melissa Price-jones
1,364 supporters
Proper lighting in South Park

There are two important questions to address here. Does Oxford City Council have the right to install lighting? Oxford Preservation Trust bought South Park in 1932 and gave it to the City of Oxford in 1959. The Trust holds a legal covenant on the land and that restricts the City Council from installing lighting, so we just don’t have the automatic right to install lighting. And, if the City Council could install lighting, should it? A number of local residents have raised concerns over the years, as council tax payers, about money being spent on this project when students can walk an extra minute to the same destination in the darker hours of the day by an existing, well-lit, accessible route. Local residents also raise strong concerns about light pollution and its impact on South Park’s unique designation as a dark sky area, and its wildlife and biodiversity. However, as a result of concerns raised by residents about drug dealing and drug use in South Park, the Oxford Public Spaces Drugs Taskforce has been working hard to tackle the issue – cutting back foliage and canopies to improve sight lines across the park, moving park benches into more visible locations, and carrying out high-visibility police patrols of the area. The Taskforce - which is a partnership between Oxford City Council, Thames Valley Police and Oxfordshire County Council - is moving onto another part of East Oxford because we’re confident that we’ve made the park a safer place, and we hope many students and neighbours will be reassured by our track record. For more information about the Oxford Public Spaces Drugs Taskforce, please visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/drugstaskforce

3 months ago
Open up Oxford's emergency homeless shelters every freezing winter night to save lives

We think it’s important to clear up some inaccuracies in this petition. The lady who died last year was not sleeping rough, and the weather was not 0°C or below, at the time of her death. She had an Oxford connection and was accessing homelessness services in Oxford; she was accommodated at the time she was taken ill. Increasing SWEP to every night that temperatures are predicted to drop to 0°C or below would have had no impact on this individual. We believe it to be inappropriate for anyone to base their argument on an incomplete and misleading understanding of the sad facts concerning a particular individual’s death. It has been alleged that people were turned away from the SWEP service due to a lack of space. This is simply not true – no one was turned away because of a lack of space. Homeless Oxfordshire, St Mungo’s and the Porch have provided an excellent SWEP service on behalf of the City Council. From time to time they will bar individuals on safeguarding grounds as they have duties of care to staff and residents, and some individuals have a record of incidents posing an unacceptable risk to others. Also they may not admit individuals outside the opening hours, which are clearly communicated to rough sleepers. In common with everyone who has signed up to the City Conversation, our vision is an Oxford where nobody has to sleep rough. We have invested around £20m to help the homeless in the last couple of years, including buying properties to provide accommodation for homeless families, to provide £1.4m of annual grants to homelessness services, and to fund a £1.1m new homeless shelter in Oxford. We are doing what we can to help the homeless and end this national tragedy that is playing out on our streets. If you would like more information about our work, or would like to know how you can help the homeless in Oxford, please visit: www.oxford.gov.uk/tacklinghomelessness.

2 years ago
Open up Oxford's emergency homeless shelters every freezing winter night to save lives

Thank you for caring about Oxford’s homeless and rough sleepers. We are deeply touched that so many of you have shown your concern for the effects of the national homelessness crisis that is playing out in a large number of UK cities, including Oxford. If you don’t read any further than this, please consider doing something more to help the situation. Please give your time or money to support the rough sleepers and homeless in Oxford. There is a list of 12 ways you can help now at the end of this document. Oxford City Council takes the issue of rough sleeping extremely seriously, and this document will take you through the range of work we do to help tackle the issue. Over the last two years we have: • Maintained our £1.4m of annual grants to Oxford’s homeless charities, funding a wide range of support services and accommodation, with a proposal to increase this by £200,000 in 19/20 onwards • Committed £1.5m to keep the Simon House hostel open in the face of closure and build a brand new facility for rough sleepers with complex needs in Cowley, Oxford • Secured £790,000 of Government funding to help vulnerable single adults under the age of 35, and households, at risk of homelessness • Allocated £15m to buy homes for otherwise homeless Oxford families. In the 2018/19 budget, we are proposing to add a further £5m to this fund • Alongside partners, prevented 1,107 households from becoming homeless in 2016/17 Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) Oxford City Council funds the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP), which provides emergency accommodation to everyone who needs it when the temperature is forecast to fall to 0°C or below for three consecutive nights. Oxford City Council is by far the largest provider of SWEP provision in Oxfordshire. There is no legal requirement to operate the SWEP but the City Council believes that it has a humanitarian responsibility in the face of the scale of rough sleeping in the city. Although funded by the City Council, the SWEP is operated by experienced, professional staff at St Mungo’s Outreach, the Porch, O’Hanlon House and Simon House. Whenever SWEP opens these employees step up from their core duties to carry out the extra hours of work required. Operating the service more frequently, without negatively impacting our core services for rough sleepers, would require a substantial and continuous increase in staffing levels – significantly increasing the cost. To fund this would require additional increases in Council Tax or cuts to other services. We increased SWEP services this year by opening for seven nights over the Christmas and New Year period, and no one was turned away because of a lack of space. On some nights as few as five people used the service. With the current level of SWEP provision and the City Council's agreement with churches in Oxford to open 10 new beds every night between January and March as part of their Oxford Winter Night Shelter (OWNS) initiative, we believe that there is enough support to help all those rough sleepers who wish to get off the streets and access accommodation. About homelessness in Oxford Homelessness in Oxford takes many forms: from the visible rough sleepers on our streets, to the invisible families that have fallen on hard times. People who experience homelessness are often affected by a wide range of issues, including relationship breakup, domestic violence, debt, mental health issues, drug and alcohol issues, and changes to benefits. Over recent years the Government has cut its £9m annual grant to Oxford City Council to nothing. Despite this challenging financial situation, the City Council is doing its best to support everyone who is at risk of or becomes homeless. This document outlines some of the City Council’s work. Homeless families In 2015, Oxford City Council partnered with Resonance Real Lettings property fund, with both organisations contributing £5m to purchase houses in or near Oxford for local families that would otherwise be homeless. The partnership includes homelessness charity St Mungo’s Broadway, which manages the properties, provides support services and arranges moves on to sustainable accommodation. In 2016, the City Council contributed a further £10m for temporary accommodation purchase, and, in the draft budget for 2018/19, the City Council is proposing to commit a further £5m. As part of this programme, the City Council is using compulsory purchase powers to buy empty Oxford homes for otherwise homeless Oxford families. The City Council is currently compulsorily purchasing a property in Rose Hill, which has stood empty since 1989, for this purpose. However, the City Council’s work to prevent Oxford families from becoming homeless goes far beyond just buying houses, and includes: • A £50,000 emergency fund to help new Universal Credit claimants. New claimants have to wait at least six weeks before they get their first full payment of Universal Credit (changing to five weeks in February 2018); the fund aims to help with their utilities, food and essential living costs during that wait • Supporting households affected by the benefit cap, bedroom tax and other cuts to their housing benefit with discretionary housing payments (DHPs). In 2017/18, we have a £509,495 DHP grant from the Department for Work and Pensions, which we use to top up rent shortfalls while customers work with our Welfare Reform Team to improve their financial circumstances and sustain their tenancies • A pilot Rent Guarantee Scheme, helping families threatened with homelessness into private tenancies by offering guaranteed rent and tenancy management support to landlords while we work with their tenants to improve their financial situation • As part of the City Council’s £1.4m annual grants programme, giving £518,379 in 2016/17 to organisations that provide advice and money-management support, including £200,000 to Oxford Citizens Advice Bureau, £85,290 to the Agnes Smith Advice Centre, and £122,611 to Oxford Community Work Agency • As part of the same annual grants programme, in 2016/17 giving £35,082 to A2 Dominion to support those experiencing domestic abuse, £15,000 to Oxford Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre, and £1,000 to Reducing the Risk of Domestic Abuse • Retaining more than 7,800 council houses to provide affordable homes to Oxford families, and building and purchasing hundreds of new council houses across Oxford, including 354 as part of the Barton Park housing development In 2004, the number of otherwise homeless Oxford families in temporary accommodation (i.e. hotels or B&Bs) stood at 1,000. But, thanks to all this work, the number in August 2017 was just 87 – down from 96 in March 2017. This stands in sharp contrast to the national trend, which has seen a 60% increase in the number of households in temporary accommodation since March 2011. In 2016/17, Oxford City Council and its partners prevented 1,107 households from becoming homeless. And the City Council has now almost abandoned the use of hotels and B&Bs to house otherwise homeless Oxford families. Of the 96 households in temporary accommodation in March 2017, none were in hotels or B&Bs. But the pressure on families in Oxford is increasing. More than 100 households every month are now approaching the City Council as homeless and requesting assistance. Rough sleepers Beds and services for rough sleepers in Oxford used to be largely funded through £1.4m of grants from Oxford City Council and £2m of grants from Oxfordshire County Council. Regrettably, due to a huge reduction in the amount of money it receives from central Government, Oxfordshire County Council has decided, from April 2018, to reduce its funding of homelessness services to zero. At the same time, the number of people sleeping rough in Oxford is increasing. The official street count, which is carried out by every district in the country, revealed that 61 people were sleeping rough in Oxford – a dramatic increase from the 33 in 2016. But the City Council and homeless organisations estimate the number could be as many as 89 people – up from 47 in 2016. Oxford City Council funds and provides a wide range of support services and accommodation for Oxford’s rough sleepers. The focus over the last year has been to mitigate the impact of Oxfordshire County Council’s funding cuts. But it is important to note that Oxford City Council does not have a statutory duty to provide this funding or these services. However, we see it as our humanitarian responsibility to help. More beds and a new shelter Simon House, a hostel in Oxford that helps rough sleepers with complex needs, was due to close in March 2018 as a direct result of Oxfordshire County Council’s funding cuts. However, Oxford City Council has provided the hostel with £200,000 of funding to keep 22 of the beds open until April 2019 to allow time for a new facility to be built at another location in the City. The City Council has also provided £1.1m to enable A2Dominion, the leaseholder and support provider at Simon House, to build bespoke supported accommodation next to the John Allen Centre in Cowley. The new facility will provide 22 units of complex needs accommodation with staff on-site 24 hours a day, with a further 15 units of move-on accommodation for people with low support needs as they move towards independent living. Work is due to start on the new facility in the spring of 2018, subject to planning approval. The City Council has also provided an additional £160,000 to Response Housing and Oxford Homeless Pathways. This money will be used to double the number of beds at the Acacia housing project from five to 10 in the next two years. The Acacia project, which is based on the US Housing First model, has proved successful at resettling people whose multiple and complex needs make it difficult for them to manage in other types of supported housing. Grants to homelessness organisations Every year Oxford City Council provides £1.4m of grants to Oxford’s homelessness organisations to fund a wide range of support services. Much of these support services are targeted at early intervention to stop people from becoming homeless. Funding targeted at helping existing rough sleepers aims to support them through what is known as the homeless pathway. This is the path from sleeping on the streets; through hostels and supported accommodation; with support services to help with employment, training, or any substance abuse or mental health issues; and finally to helping people into permanent accommodation and work. In 2016/17 the grants, totalling £1,385,214, funded the following organisations: Supported accommodation: • Housing First, Julian Housing: £47,850 Funding for one full time (FTE) support worker and 0.5 FTE peer support worker for this specialist housing project. The project offers an alternative supported housing model – five units – for rough sleepers entrenched in homelessness. • O’Hanlon House: £54,903 Funding to provide 10 additional spaces to manage the high number of rough sleepers. • Dispersed supported accommodation: £150,000 Forty units of supported accommodation for rough sleepers/single homeless with a connection to Oxford. The Provision is for medium- to low-support needs, with a focus on support to enable residents to move on to and sustain independent accommodation. Tackling Rough Sleeping: • Street Population Outreach Team, St Mungo’s: £350,893 Funding a team of nine FTE. The team delivers assertive outreach, reconnection, personalisation and advice services for rough sleepers/single homeless. It assists rough sleepers to access suitable accommodation and support – in Oxford, Oxfordshire or elsewhere – with the aim to reduce the number of individuals spending a second night on the streets, living on the streets and returning to the streets. • Severe Weather Emergency Provision: £25,000 Funding to provide emergency beds in periods of severe weather to all rough sleepers. • Specialist Homelessness Liaison Officer/Service, Thames Valley Police: £40,000 Funding for TVP City Centre Unit to provide targeted support to reduce rough sleeping. TVP City Centre Unit has a dedicated police constable for the purpose of this work. • Day Services for rough sleepers, O’Hanlon House: £82,778 Provision of day services – showers and laundry facilities, as well as breakfast and lunch and any other activities taking place – for individuals rough sleeping in Oxford and working with outreach services to access suitable accommodation. • City Centre Ambassadors, Oxford City Council: £10,000 Part of the City Centre Ambassadors’ work includes engaging with homeless people and referring them into the appropriate support services. Preventing homelessness: • Preventing Homelessness Tenancy Sustainment Officer, Elmore Community Services: £35,630 Funding for one FTE specialist sustainment officer to support residents in Oxford City Council accommodation to maintain their tenancies. • Pre-Tenancy Training Course, Connection Support: £16,000 Funding to provide courses to help 50 people develop a range of skills that will enable them to become tenancy ready. • Welfare Reform Team, Oxford City Council: £80,000 Funding contributes towards the work of the team focussing mitigating the impact of welfare reform across the City. • Target Hardening/Sanctuary Scheme, Oxford City Council: £30,000 Funding provided for a post in the Anti-Social Behaviour Team to support victims of domestic abuse and enable them to stay in their own homes. Access to Health and Social Care: • Mental Health Practitioner, Luther Street Medical Centre: £25,000 Funding to contribute towards one FTE Mental Health Practitioner in order to providing the outreach team with specialist mental health support and intervention when supporting rough sleepers. Tackling Worklessness and Improving Positive Activities: • Education, training and employment workers, Aspire: £77,623 Funding for two FTE Education, Training and Employment workers to provide training and employment opportunities for homeless and/or vulnerably housed individuals in Oxford. • Emmaus Community Oxford: £15,000 Core funding for Emmaus to provide accommodation in their community and work opportunities in their second-hand furniture social enterprise. • Day Centre, The Porch: £55,000 Core funding for The Porch (formerly known as Steppin’ Stone) daycentre to support rough sleepers and those vulnerably housed through a range of activities, training and education and where appropriate sign post clients to more appropriate services. • Service Broker, The Big Issue Foundation: £25,000 Funding for one FTE to support Big Issue sellers into accommodation and into sustainable work opportunities. • Gatehouse Café: £5,580 Core funding for the Gatehouse café to support and engage hard-to-reach clients to access accommodation and specialist support. Priority services for Young People: • Young People’s Pathway, Oxfordshire County Council: £42,992 This grant is part of Oxford City Council’s contribution to joint commissioning of the Young Person’s Pathway. • Emergency Bed for Oxford city, Oxfordshire County Council: £6,134 Funding provides one emergency bed within the Young Person’s pathway for use by Oxford city. Other: • Single Homelessness Team, Oxford City Council: £120,000 Funding contribution towards the Council’s Rough Sleeping and Single Homelessness Team. • Private Rented Move-on assistance: £15,000 Funding to enable access to private rented accommodation for individuals moving on from the adult homeless pathway. Funds will assist with deposit and accessible for individuals with a connection to the City. • Oxford CHAIN database, Real Systems: £4,000 Core funding to maintain web-based database management system that collates data and provides monitoring reports on rough sleeping. • In-year commissioning: £70,831 Funding has been put aside in order for officers to respond to unmet need by commissioning services addressing emerging service gaps. The City Council, in its draft budget, has proposed increasing the £1.4m of annual grants to homelessness organisations by £200,000 every year from 2019/20. Trailblazer funding In December 2016, Oxford City Council, along with Oxfordshire’s district councils, won £790,000 of Government funding (known as the Oxfordshire Trailblazer bid) to help vulnerable single adults under the age of 35, and households, at risk of homelessness. For each at-risk individual, the money is being used to understand what services they need and what works best for them to stop them from becoming homeless. The work is focussing on three areas: • Targeted prevention and outreach work: Officers from across the city and district councils actively seeking out those who may be at risk, and working with them to understand what could cause them to become homeless • Resilience Services: Providing a range of services, including financial and employment advice and mentoring, to encourage behavioural change • Homeless Champions Network: Homeless champions to work with key services, including health services and criminal justice, to assess individuals and help plan their discharge The joint bid, led by Oxford City Council, was to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) £50m programme to prevent homelessness. The funding will be split over 2017/18 and 2018/19 (£395,000 each year). City Conversation In November 2017, more than 100 stakeholders came together to discuss rough sleeping and homelessness in Oxford. The City Conversation, organised by Oxford City Council, included representatives from Oxfordshire’s homelessness organisations; health and mental health providers; faith groups; councils, the police and other public bodies; local councillors; and people with actual experience of rough sleeping. The aim of the City Conversation, which was the largest conversation of its kind to take place in Oxford, was to start to find a common understanding of what causes rough sleeping and street homelessness in Oxford, and to find the means to tackle the issue collectively. This will include consideration of any need for changes to SWEP The first conversation saw a number of core principles and possible objectives going forward agreed between the 100 delegates. Going forwards, the stakeholders will work towards agreeing a Rough Sleeping Charter for Oxford by April 2018, which will provide guiding principles for all concerned to help address the issue. You can read more about the City Conversation by visiting: https://www.oxford.gov.uk/news/article/604/rough_sleeping_the_city_conversation. Church support this winter Churches across Oxford will be opening their doors during January, February and March 2018 to provide emergency accommodation for the city’s rough sleepers. The seven churches – St Aldate’s, St Alban’s, St Clement’s, St Columba’s, St Ebbe’s, St Michael and the Northgate and Wesley Memorial – will each open their doors on a different night of the week. The scheme will provide up to 10 beds for Oxford’s rough sleepers on a first come, first serve basis. For more information and to donate to the project, please visit: http://oxfordanglican.co.uk/oxford-churches-team-up-to-offer-emergency-night-shelter/. Ways you can help There are lots of ways you can help rough sleepers or homeless people in Oxford. Here are just 12: 1. Donate money to the Oxford Homeless Medical Fund instead of giving money to people begging in Oxford: www.oxhop.org.uk/services/medicalfund/. The Oxford Homeless Medical Fund supports welfare, educational and medical services for homeless people in Oxford. The fund’s primary beneficiary is Luther Street Medical Centre, a GP surgery in Oxford for rough sleepers and single homeless people. 2. The simplest way to support Oxford Poverty Action is to make a donation: www.oxpat.org. All donations are distributed via agencies working with homeless and vulnerable people, for example those that provide shelter, food, day services, clothing advice and medical care to people in need. 3. Join Oxford SPOT as a volunteer and go on early morning and late night outreach in the city, assisting rough sleepers off the streets: https://www.mungos.org/our-services/outreach-teams/. Oxford Street Population Outreach Team is a consistent presence on the streets of Oxford. The team work early morning and late nights across the whole City, in order to make contact with rough sleepers, assist in finding suitable housing options and link in with support. 4. Buy The Big Issue from a vendor wearing a red tabard and a badge: www.bigissue.org.uk. The Big Issue represents a meaningful alternative to begging. Big Issue vendors buy the magazine for £1.25 and sell it to the public, for £2.50. This is a real opportunity to start to earn money and is a vital first step for a person as they begin their journey away from homelessness. 5. Have lunch at the Crisis Skylight Café: https://www.crisis.org.uk/get-involved/cafe-from-crisis/oxford/. Great food and drinks in George Street, in the heart of Oxford. The café is a social enterprise that provides on-the-job training for people experiencing homelessness. While you are there, ask staff for opportunities for you to volunteer. 6. Donate warm winter clothes, sleeping bags and toiletries to O’Hanlon House: www.oxhop.org.uk/services/ohanlonhouse/. O’Hanlon House is one of the homeless hostels in Oxford. O’Hanlon House, together with Oxford SPOT, also co-ordinates and provides emergency provision for rough sleepers in severe winter weather and your donations will help them continue to do this. 7. Give your unwanted furniture to Emmaus Oxford, visit the store at Barns Road and buy quality second hand items: https://www.emmaus.org.uk/oxford Emmaus Oxford store on Barns Road sells second hand goods and furniture at very good prices. The store is run by the companions of Emmaus Oxford. Emmaus tackles problems of homelessness by offering a home, a job, new skills and a sense of belonging. 8. Buy gifts at the Shop at the Old Fire Station: https://oldfirestation.org.uk/shop-cafe/shop/. Independent handcrafted good including jewellery, textiles, stationary and more. Money from purchases goes back into funding Arts at the Old Fire Station’s work with homelessness charity Crisis, offering training and volunteering opportunities. Open Tue – Sat 11am – 6pm. 9. Volunteer your time or donate funds and goods to The Porch Day Centre: www.theporch.org.uk. The Porch is a day centre based in East Oxford, providing company, support, food, shower and laundry facilities to people who have experienced homelessness and those who are vulnerably housed. They promote a range of activities and you can help by volunteering: help in the kitchen, making preserves, working on allotments, helping with IT and office skills, and talking to and befriending members. 10. Contract Aspire to do work for your organisation or business: www.aspireoxford.co.uk. Offer work and training opportunities and training through own social enterprises to those who have experienced disadvantage and who may be facing complex barriers to employment. Services offered include grounds maintenance, recruitment, property services and removals. 11. Donate cash, food, clothes, or volunteer with Gatehouse: www.oxfordgatehouse.org Gatehouse is a local charity that provides food, company and activities. Based in the city centre and open two hours six evenings per week. 12. Volunteer with Connection Support or donate cash by texting CNFS15 £10 (£1 to £5 or £10) to 70070 and make a difference today: http://www.connectionsupport.org.uk/oxfordshire/. Connection Support Provides a breadth of specialised support services to people facing complex life challenges, including ‘floating support’ and provision of supported accommodation for rough sleepers and single homeless people.

2 years ago
Where are our promised 1,000 Westgate bike racks?

The Westgate Shopping Centre redevelopment has not yet been fully completed – workers are still on site and there are some shops still to be completed and a lot of work around the edges of the new development. Oxford City Council, as the city’s planning authority, insisted on bicycle parking being included in the Westgate Shopping Centre redevelopment and we are pleased that new bike racks for 1,000 bicycles will be installed as part of the development. The provision of the bike racks for 1,000 bicycles is a requirement of the planning permission for the new Westgate Shopping Centre. The development was created followed extensive public consultation with stakeholders, including cycling groups in Oxford such as Cyclox. This consultation included the location and type of bike racks that would be installed. Sadly, although 180 cycle spaces have been installed, the installation of the majority of the new bike racks has been delayed. Last week the Westgate Shopping Centre developer apologised for this delay, and again reassured the City Council and the public that it will install all the bike racks and meet the planning requirement. On Friday, the City Council installed 50 temporary bike racks in St Ebbes Street. We are disappointed that the cycle parking was not fully installed prior to the shopping centre being opened, and are working with the developers to ensure that it is installed and operational as soon as possible.

2 years ago
Stop targeting Oxford's rough sleepers

This is a fire safety issue. Bags had been left outside a city centre shop for more than a year. We asked the owners of the bags on numerous occasions not to obstruct the fire escape. Work recently began on the refurbishment of the shop and the City Council was asked by the building company to assist in the removal of the bags because they were blocking fire exit routes, therefore posing a risk to those working inside. Council officers issued Community Protection Notices on the unattended items and gave the owners of the bags two days to remove them. Community Protection Notices required the owners to remove the items and allow the City Council to remove any abandoned obstructions. It is our legal duty to inform anyone in receipt of a notice of all possible sanctions, whether they are to be used or not, including a possible court imposed fine of up to £2,500. After two days the owners removed all their belongings. What was left was a soiled duvet and pieces of cardboard, which we disposed of. No one was fined, and the fire escape is no longer blocked. Each year we spend £1.4m on homeless services, including day services providing food, laundry and shower facilities, outreach and resettlement services, mental health support, and a broad range of accommodation including provision for young people, people with complex needs, those who are working and emergency provision in winter. We also fund a range of services that provide support, including the Big Issue and education, training and employment services, as well as prevention for people at risk of homelessness who are fleeing violence, tenancy sustainment support, and welfare reform assistance. Last year we helped win £790,000 of government funding to support vulnerable single homeless adults in Oxfordshire, we have contributed £15m to purchasing properties to house homeless Oxford families, and we have retained our 7,800 council houses to provide affordable rents. We take this national homelessness tragedy that is playing out on the streets of our city very seriously; we are very aware of the circumstances of the people on the streets of Oxford, the risks they face and their support needs, and work very hard with our partners so that no one should have to be homeless. On this occasion we had to balance the desire for people to leave their possessions in a fire escape with the risk this posed to the people working in the building.

2 years ago
Don't threaten homeless people with fines

This is a fire safety issue. Bags had been left outside a city centre shop for more than a year. We asked the owners of the bags on numerous occasions not to obstruct the fire escape. Work recently began on the refurbishment of the shop and the City Council was asked by the building company to assist in the removal of the bags because they were blocking fire exit routes, therefore posing a risk to those working inside. Council officers issued Community Protection Notices on the unattended items and gave the owners of the bags two days to remove them. Community Protection Notices required the owners to remove the items and allow the City Council to remove any abandoned obstructions. It is our legal duty to inform anyone in receipt of a notice of all possible sanctions, whether they are to be used or not, including a possible court imposed fine of up to £2,500. After two days the owners removed all their belongings. What was left was a soiled duvet and pieces of cardboard, which we disposed of. No one was fined, and the fire escape is no longer blocked. Each year we spend £1.4m on homeless services, including day services providing food, laundry and shower facilities, outreach and resettlement services, mental health support, and a broad range of accommodation including provision for young people, people with complex needs, those who are working and emergency provision in winter. We also fund a range of services that provide support, including the Big Issue and education, training and employment services, as well as prevention for people at risk of homelessness who are fleeing violence, tenancy sustainment support, and welfare reform assistance. Last year we helped win £790,000 of government funding to support vulnerable single homeless adults in Oxfordshire, we have contributed £15m to purchasing properties to house homeless Oxford families, and we have retained our 7,800 council houses to provide affordable rents. We take this national homelessness tragedy that is playing out on the streets of our city very seriously; we are very aware of the circumstances of the people on the streets of Oxford, the risks they face and their support needs, and work very hard with our partners so that no one should have to be homeless. On this occasion we had to balance the desire for people to leave their possessions in a fire escape with the risk this posed to the people working in the building.

2 years ago