Oxford City Council & Oxfordshire County Council: Close the hostel 'One Foot Forward' at 3-5, Iffley Road, Oxford

This petition made change with 209 supporters!

This hostel is failing its residents, failing the community and costing a fortune.

'One Foot Forward' provides 20 places for young adults, usually ex-offenders, at a cost of £500,000 p.a. to Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils. The site itself, owned by the city council, two four storey townshouses near the centre of town, has a capital value of around £1 million. This money could be better spent providing alternative accommodation.

Though most of the residents are jobless they receive virtually no structured support. Most therefore hang around outside during the day, swearing at passers-by. The hostel for much of the night and weekends is staffed only by junior support staff. One police sergeant estimated that 20% of all crime in East Oxford emanates from this one hostel. Its residents have assaulted, mugged and intimidated residents, vandalised property, stuffed needles and fireworks through letterboxes, and attempted to sell drugs to the pupils at the school opposite. The staff seem unwilling or unable to control them. One house nearby was burgled three times in one year by the residents of this hostel. The cost in time and money to Thames Valley Police has been considerable.

The hostel is run by a Bournemouth based charity called BCHA, receiving funding from our city and county councils. It took over after the previous managing agency was removed approx. five years ago, following pressure from local residents prompted by the level of crime centred upon the hostel. BCHA have failed to address the problems associated with the old management and are repeating the same mistakes.

It is not helping the people who stay there. The occupancy rate is often only in single figures, meaning a bed there costs more per year than a place at Eton. This petition is not calling for an end to provision of emergency accommodation for young adults requiring a roof over their heads. It is calling for the closure of this hostel so the money can be reallocated to provide accommodation in a more productive and supportive way.

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