Oxford City Council is asking people who live and work in Oxford to support a new citywide partnership to prevent and reduce rough sleeping in the city.
Today (Thursday 10 October) is World Homeless Day and World Mental Health Day – and also the launch date for Oxford Homeless Movement, which aims to ensure that nobody should have to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford.
Turning a Conversation into a Movement
In November 2017 the council held the City Conversation on rough sleeping. This brought together more than 100 organisations and people who wanted more action to tackle the homelessness crisis. The City Conversation agreed that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford and to develop a rough sleeping charter setting out a common vision for helping people experiencing homelessness.
The council has been working in partnership with Oxfordshire Community Foundation, local homelessness organisations, community groups, students, concerned individuals and people with lived experience of homelessness to turn the City Conversation into action.
Oxford Homeless Movement is the product of this work.
Sign the Oxford rough sleeping charter
The new partnership has produced an Oxford rough sleeping charter and is now asking businesses, organisations and individuals in Oxford to sign up to its vision and values – and to make a commitment to help end rough sleeping in Oxford.
The Oxford Homeless Movement website provides information on how to give time, money or help in kind to organisations supporting people sleeping rough. It also gives guidance and advice for people experiencing homelessness who need help.
Donate to Oxford Homeless Movement
People can also donate directly to Oxford Homeless Movement on the website.
All money raised by the partnership will be split between charities providing services for homeless people in the city, the delivery of the new engagement and assessment hub opening in Floyds Row and a new impact fund aimed at developing new services.
Join the Oxford Homeless Movement
Oxford Homeless Movement is holding a drop in event today at Open House, 36 Little Clarendon Street. This will take place between 10am and 1pm and later from 3pm until 6:30pm.
People, businesses and organisations are invited to drop in to show their support, sign the rough sleeping charter and discuss what action they can take to help end rough sleeping in Oxford.
Councillors Linda Smith and Liz Wade and Green Party spokesperson on homelessness David Thomas will drop in to sign the rough sleeping charter and demonstrate cross-party support for the partnership at 11:30am.
“Whether you’re a business, an organisation or an individual, everybody can do something to help end homelessness in Oxford. So please drop in to Open House, sign the rough sleeping charter and join our Movement.
“We know that people who live and work in Oxford are concerned about rough sleeping and want to help, and the Movement website makes it easy to do this. You can find out how to give your time, money and help in kind to organisations helping people experiencing homelessness, and donate directly to Oxford Homeless Movement. All the money the Movement raises will be split between charities providing services in the city, the assessment hub and shelter opening in Floyds Row and a new impact fund aimed at developing new services.
“By working together we can help achieve our goal that nobody should have to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford.”
Councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing
Tackling homelessness in Oxford
Oxford City Council is committed to preventing and reducing all forms of homelessness. In 2019/20 the council has committed £6 million to homelessness prevention, including providing more than 200 beds for people experiencing rough sleeping.
Earlier this week councillors agreed a new approach to tackling rough sleeping this winter. This will mean improved assessment and a range of new short term accommodation services aimed at getting people off the streets and into sustainable housing more quickly.
This will include providing winterlong emergency shelter available to anyone sleeping rough – whether or not they have a local connection or recourse to public funds. A new winter shelter will open by early November.
Councils and health partners across Oxfordshire have committed to working collaboratively to develop a countywide strategy to ensure an effective whole system approach focused on prevention, early intervention and moving people on from rough sleeping. The council’s plans are part of this transformational approach.
The centrepiece of the transformational plan is the conversion of 1 Floyds Row into a new engagement and assessment centre supported by short term accommodation for people sleeping rough or at risk of homelessness. The new facility will include a range of accommodation, a treatment room and intensive support to help people move on from a life on the streets.
A new “right first time” assessment process means that engagement with people experiencing homelessness will begin indoors in a warm, calm and safe space that will be open round the clock all year round – rather than on the streets. Expert assessment workers will help people to develop personal housing plans and get the support they need from other services – including onsite drug, alcohol and medical services – to move on into sustainable accommodation.
Floyds Row has been co-designed by people experiencing homelessness. It will provide 20 spaces for newly homeless people to stay for up to a week while they go through their assessment. There will be another 20 “staging post” spaces for people who have been assessed but need more time to move on to other accommodation.
Floyds Row will also provide up to 16 beds of winterlong accommodation that will be available to anyone until the end of March whatever the weather.
To meet the needs of people experiencing homelessness Floyds Row will be dog-friendly and will include separate accommodation for women.
.To begin transforming services this month the council is putting interim arrangements in place while the conversion of Floyds Row is completed. The building will open in stages.
From 21 October the new assessment service and 12 beds will open at Simon House, with the winterlong shelter also opening there a few weeks later. These are expected to transfer to Floyds Row around New Year along with services currently provided at the multi-agency hub in Bonn Square. Floyds Row will be fully operational when the staging post accommodation opens next spring.