CHURCHES are getting together to offer emergency night shelter accommodation for the homeless in Oxford this winter.
During the coldest months of the year, beginning this January until the end of March, churches of all denominations will be setting up temporary beds for the growing numbers of homeless people in the city. St Aldate’s Church in the city-centre opened the basement of its Parish Centre to provide beds for the homeless during February in the hope that more churches would offer accommodation in subsequent years.
The Revd Mary Gurr, Oxford’s chaplain to the homeless, says: “Rough sleeping on the streets of our city has risen in the past five years by around 400 per cent so the need is great. It is much more visible. Massive cuts in funding have meant that much of the supported accommodation in hostels has been lost. Welfare Reform has made things more difficult for people who are on benefits, and there is also a severe lack of suitable social housing in the city. Inflated property prices and high demand have led to unaffordable rental costs.
“We are still working out the details but we are planning to provide an emergency night shelter for up to 10 people in seven different venues. We see this not just as a response to a real need, but also an opportunity to engage with rough sleepers, and perhaps enable them to make a new start. To this end, the city’s outreach team will be making the referrals to the scheme, and will also have an opportunity to work with the guests, as will people from Crisis Skylight.
“This idea is not new. High Wycombe, for example, are in their tenth year, and their scheme has been most successful. We are indebted to them and to Pilgrim Hearts in Bracknell who have given us valuable advice.”
Donations of money will be needed for this project. Make your donations to OWNS
Barclays, Cornmarket 20 65 20 Ac No 83541320 marked Night Shelter.
Link to Volunteer Training Poster http://oxfordanglican.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/OWNS-Training-portrait.pdf