Farewell, and Welcome.

Last week at Oxford Homeless Pathways, we all had to say a fond farewell to a truly inspirational individual.

CEO of Oxford Homeless Pathways, Lesley Dewhurst, has after 13 years, decided to step down. She will be taking some time off to travel around, and will then be looking for new challenges and adventures to work on.

Lesley has worked within the network for over 25 years, and has become a figurehead for many people and organisations. A fountain of knowledge about the homeless and housing sector, her expertise will be a great loss to OxHoP, and she will be greatly missed. However we wish her luck on her future adventures, and I don’t think this is the last we’ll be hearing of her! It’s also worth noting that she has been granted the prestigious Freedom of the City award! Although it is disappointingly not true that this allows her to shepherd a herd of goats down the High Street…

On the other hand, we are excited to welcome Claire Dowan, our new CEO! With a keen eye for fundraising, we’re excited to welcome her into the team and see what new ideas she can bring to the organisation.

It’s all change here!

Oxford Half 2016

WE NEED YOUR FEET!

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Well in a way… This year’s Oxford Half Marathon will be held on the 9th October. We’re happy to say we will be a charity partner for this year’s event, and that means, we need runners!

If you’re a keen runner, or if you want to set your self a challenge, why not enter and run for OxHoP? We have 15 spaces available, and all you have to do is get in touch via our FaceBook or Twitter pages, or alternatively email our Fundraiser, Kaye, in order to guarantee yourself one of our spots.
Kaye’s email is: kayemcdougall@oxhop.org.uk

We ask that each person who runs for us aims to raise at least £250. You can set up a fundraising page via our JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/oxhop

Please get in touch before these spaces get filled!  Each person who runs for us will get a fun goody bag for the day too!

OxHoP

Not Just Homeless – The Book

Last year one of our volunteers Riki, took the time to write up people’s personal stories and experiences of homelessness.

She spent hours talking to current and previous residents and rough sleepers and helped them to write their own story, or wrote it herself following conversations she had with them. This first book was called ‘My Story’ and sold well in a few bookshops here in Oxford. Now we’re happy to announce that Riki and our residents have produced a second book on the same theme, called ‘Not Just Homeless’, the book. (we produced a film under the same title over the summer).

Here’s how Riki sums it all up:

‘Not Just Homeless’ tells the life stories of 11 homeless and formerly homeless people of Oxfordshire, and gives information about Oxfordshire’s homeless services.  It aims to make readers aware that every homeless person has interests, skills and an often very interesting back story.

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Quotes from the interviewees:

Angella:  “I was a correspondent’s clerk at the BBC World Service.  I had my own unit which was Greek and Turkish.  The coffee was like tar, but the experience was great…  I became homeless because I was drinking too much…  Three weeks ago I was on the streets, but now [at O’Hanlon House] I’m doing things I really like to do and that I haven’t done for a long time”.

Mohammad: “I am a refugee from Sudan… As I left the prison, the police said to me ‘If you open your mouth, next time we’ll kill you’…  In the ship, we were put in a room with no toilet and no shower.  I don’t know how long we were on the ship, maybe three weeks”.

Andy: “I’m 48, I’ve been homeless since I was 14, and I understand how the homeless feel…  For instance you get blokes driving along in their lorry, and they offer you a couple of fags and try to take advantage of you.  It’s everyone for themselves out there…  I won an award for running relaxation groups, talking groups, exercise groups”.

Meet them and eight other of your neighbours.

Published by Oxford Homeless Pathways in December 2015, ‘Not Just Homeless’ is stocked for £5 – £8 at Blackwell’s, the fair trade shop on Cornmarket, and the Crisis café.

Enough is Enough!

As many of you will already know, we have been struggling against funding cuts from local and national government for a few years now. As recently as last year the Housing Related Support budget for Oxfordshire was cut by 38%. Now we are fighting a proposal that the same budget is cut by another 65%. If cuts like this go ahead, organisations like our will be forced to close and vital services for homeless people in Oxford will cease to exist.

So we want to say Enough is Enough! We have started a petition with other organisations who rely on this budget, and we are close to 5,000 signatures. But we need more!
We have also organised a rally outside Oxfordshire County Hall on the 26th January at 1pm, so that we can protest against the proposal as the council sit for their full cabinet meeting.

We need as many people to stand with us, united against the cuts, so that we can make our voices heard. The FaceBook event page can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/events/147993022242270/152854295089476/

And the petition can be found here:

https://www.change.org/p/oxfordshire-county-council-save-vital-services-for-homeless-people

Please, please, help us fight these proposals, by signing the petition, sharing it with your friends, families and colleagues. And of course, if you are able, come join us on the 26th to show your support.

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Christmas Appeal Smashes Target!

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We last posted back at the end of November about launching our Christmas Appeal ‘Gift of Hope’ with Aspire, another local charity with whom we work very closely.

We’ve had a mad few weeks with the appeal, with lots of events, collections, and media coverage. The appeal is still going to be open for another week or so, but we’re confident that most of the people who were supporting the appeal have now given their money…and we’re truly ecstatic to announce that we SMASHED through our target of £15,000 and have now raised over £18,000 including Gift Aid.

We want to thank every individual who helped us with the campaign, whether by spreading the word, donating, or running an event to raise funds in their community.

You’ll be hearing a lot from us now concerning funding cuts. We are already immersed in the consequences of the first round of cuts that were announced over 18 months ago, and now we’re back into the fray of another battle. But with the money raised from the Gift of Hope appeal, we can use it to keep our services safe from restrictions or even closure. Fundraising for ourselves will become increasingly necessary, and this appeal has let us feel the wonderful support that the people of Oxfordshire are willing to give organisations like ours.

Thanks to everyone who donated, the appeal has given us and our residents a really positive start to 2016.

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Gift Of Hope

Once again, we’ve been quiet here on the blog, but that’s by no means a representation of what we’ve been doing behind the scenes…

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Did you know a UK household spends, on average, £821 on Christmas? The people I’ve tested this statistic out on always seem shocked for a few seconds, and then vehemently deny ever having spent that much on Christmas. But then they think about it. A UK household might have 4, 5, 6 or even more family members under it’s roof.

When you tot up presents for the kids, (with growing pressure to spend vast amounts of money of the ‘must have’ toys of the year) presents for other family members, and their offspring. The enormous amount of food bought for the festive season, travel to see relatives, days out while the kids are off school, and of course the tree. (Which undoubtedly entails some new fairy lights to replace the ones that were working fine when you put them in the box last year, but now remain resolutely dark in some sulking reaction to sitting safe and undisturbed in the attic for the past 11months).
When you add it all up, maybe £821 is much easier to spend on Christmas than people think.

And yet many thousands of people in the UK will wake up without a home on Christmas day. Either on the streets, or in unsafe accommodation.
Hundreds of these people will wake up in Oxford.

This year we have teamed up with Aspire, another local charity, with a focus on getting homeless and previously homeless individuals back in employment. Together we have created Gift Of Hope! A joint Christmas Appeal, aimed at raising an extra £15,000 over the festive period, to help support Oxford’s homeless over the coming year.

With funding cuts becoming an annual occurrence for the homeless and housing services in Oxfordshire, it’s more important than ever that we work together and to raise funds ourselves. This is the only way we guarantee that the quality of the services offered by OxHoP and Aspire, aren’t compromised because of financial hardship.

But to raise this money, we need YOUR help, and the help of everyone in the Oxford community. So…

To donate direct to the campaign, visit the JustGiving page here:
https://campaign.justgiving.com/charity/aspireoxfordshire/giftofhope

Find the FB  page here, and read some the amazing stories we’ll be sharing over the coming weeks:
https://www.facebook.com/Gift-of-Hope-2015-1487951051512125/

Please, stand beside us this Christmas, and give differently this year, by giving a homeless person the GIFT OF HOPE.

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‘not just homeless’

We’ve been a bit quiet on the blog front for a while! But we’re happy to say that’s only because we’ve been really busy with lots of exciting projects. In particular, rolling out a new film we’ve made alongside Aspire Oxford, another local charity, with a focus on employment.

The film, titled ‘not just homeless’ was made by 7 individuals, staff and clients of both charities, and volunteers from the wider community. It was made with the aim of breaking down stereotypes of homelessness, and to allow homeless, or previously homeless individuals to share their stories.

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Many of you will know as well, that Oxford has been highlighted this year as one of the UK’s most unaffordable places to live. Unemployment is high, the rent prices are high, there’s a terrifying lack of affordable homes, and of landlords willing to accept tenants on housing benefit. All of these factors are creating a place in which homelessness just keeps rising. As this happens, the services of charities like Oxford Homeless Pathways and Aspire Oxford, are being pushed to their limits.

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‘not just homeless’ aims to change perceptions of homelessness, and increase understanding on the wider issues surrounding it.

So if you’re in Oxford, come along to the Ultimate Picture Palace tonight at 4.45pm.

Minimum donation £5. We hope to see you there!

Not Just Giving…

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Having a little peak at our JustGiving page today reminded me just how many wonderful people give to us and for such a variety of great reasons. The comments left on the JustGiving page often warm our hearts and re-inspire us when the organisation is facing tough decisions and difficult times.

We thought we’d like to share some of these comments with you, to see if they make you feel good too!

“Because I found £50 dropped in the street” – Ben

“Donation to a good cause on my 50th birthday” – Jam

“Oxford Muslim Community Initiative, fundraised during Ramadan” – OMCI

“For Oxford Homeless Pathways because they helped Dad before he passed away” – Sian

“I donated as I felt privileged to have my heating fixed and now feel safe and warm” – Anonymous

“It seemed like the best use of my money” – Anonymous

“This is my winter fuel payment” – Anonymous

Thanks to everyone who donates to us and supports us in any other way. The past 12 months has been a tricky one, and it’s not going to get any easier this year, but with support like this from the local community, we feel at least able to face the future with strength and confidence.

OxHoP

Entering The Blogospehere

Greetings!

So Oxford Homeless Pathways have decided to take more steps into the 21st century. First it was Twitter, then Facebook, and now this; Our very own blog.

We want this to be a space where we can share with you what’s going on in the organisation, from photos to reports and beyond. This blog  will give us to the chance to post up news and events much quicker and more frequently than we can on our full website, and it’s much easier to link in with our other social media platforms.

We’d love for you to follow this blog, either via WordPress (if you are a registered user) or by email. You can find these options at the bottom of the page. (Below our live Twitter feed!)

Thanks for supporting OxHoP and taking the time to read this post, and keep your eyes and ears peeled for more to come soon!

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