Oxford residents and visitors who want to help rough sleepers can double the difference their money will make by donating to Oxford Poverty Action Trust (OxPAT) this Christmas.
Between Monday 10 December and Sunday 6 January, Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) is pledging to match any donation to OxPAT through its Christmas Match Fund.
Where a donation is eligible for Gift Aid, this means a £10 initial donation will be worth £22.50 to Oxford homelessness charities.
OxPAT is a charitable trust that operates with the full support of Oxford City Council and offers an alternative to giving money directly to people on the streets. It was set up in 1996 with the aim of supporting local good causes that help homeless and vulnerably housed people.
OxPAT distributes the money it receives to core agencies providing welfare services, rehabilitation, accommodation and training and education to help people off the streets and to rebuild their lives. This year, its nine core beneficiaries are Aspire Oxford, Crisis Skylight Oxford, Elmore Community Services, Emmaus Oxford, Homeless Oxfordshire, Oxford Street Population Outreach Team, The Porch Day Centre, Simon House, and SMART/CJS (Howard House)
You can make a Christmas Match Fund donation to OxPAT on the Charities Aid Foundation website at https://cafdonate.cafonline.org/8613#/DonationDetails
Councillor Susan Brown, Leader of Oxford City Council and Board Member for Economic Development and Partnership, said: “We know that people who live in and visit Oxford want to help rough sleepers, and this Christmas you can give even more by donating to homeless charities through OCF’s Christmas Match Fund with OxPAT. By giving to OxPAT rather than directly to individuals on the street, you can be sure that your money will provide the support needed to help people rebuild their lives.
“We welcome OCF’s generous pledge to match fund your donation, and I would urge anyone who wants to help rough sleepers to donate to OxPAT this Christmas.”
The council is providing up to 215 beds for Oxford rough sleepers this winter, including 41 new spaces funded by the government’s temporary Rough Sleeper Initiative (RSI). The council has won up to £1,014,000 in RSI funding to provide extra beds and services this winter and next.
RSI funding means the council is spending more than £2 million in tackling rough sleeping in 2018/19.
On top of this, a group of Oxford churches will open 20 beds from New Year until the end of March through the Oxford Winter Night Shelter. During prolonged freezing weather, the council will also activate its Severe Weather Emergency Protocol and open extra spaces for any rough sleeper who wants to come inside.
The council is seeking further government funding to allow it to provide winterlong beds for all rough sleepers from next winter.
The council is also working with OCF and local homelessness organisations to develop a citywide rough sleeping partnership, with the aim of ensuring that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford. The partnership is expecting to launch a rough sleeping charter and website in early 2019.
More information about what the council does to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping is at www.oxford.gov.uk/tacklinghomelessness