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Aspire – homes for good

Homes for good (not just for COVID-19)

Over 90% of the people known to be experiencing homelessness countrywide at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic have been offered emergency accommodation, with over 120 people supported into hotel and college rooms across Oxford city. This demonstrates that it is indeed possible to provide safety and security for those who need it. But we now need a solution that is long-term, and not just for COVID-19, to prevent a return to pre-pandemic levels of homelessness across Oxfordshire.

One of the biggest challenges facing local authorities and housing charities in Oxfordshire today is the distinct lack of safe, accessible and affordable ‘move-on’ housing for adults looking to exit the cycle of homelessness. As the full economic effects of the pandemic become clear, this issue will intensify and grow to affect many people beyond the homelessness sector, with protective measures – including job retention schemes, rent freezing and eviction prevention – coming to an end.

Aspire’s response

Aspire Oxford has been working with Transition by Design, Nuffield College and other supporters, including employees from Bouygues, to refurbish and bring online new accommodation in Central Oxford for up to thirty-five individuals across five empty residential Oxford college properties, offering more permanent, stable housing options for vulnerable adults – including those who have been temporarily accommodated in Oxford hotels throughout COVID-19 – over the next two years.

Since March, our housing team has sustained contact with the individuals living in the emergency accommodation, providing essential supplies, supporting Universal Credit applications and ensuring Wi-Fi and other digital provisions are in place, so they can stay connected to their support workers and loved ones.

Once they have moved out of temporary accommodation and are settled in their new homes, each beneficiary will be able to work with our team to connect with the Aspire support programmes that are most suitable to their unique needs, improving their wellbeing, optimism and motivation to progress towards their personal goals – gaining experience, participating in training and finding fulfilling employment.

This approach makes the case for a housing-led model of support, where individuals have a place of their own to call home, fostering a sense of ownership and belonging, and allowing them the space to focus on preparing for their futures.

Help us to beat homelessness in Oxfordshire

Housing stability and financial security should be for life, and not just throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we move into the late summer, Aspire will be launching a new campaign to raise funds to ensure that no one is left behind this Christmas – stay tuned for details of how you can help us. In the meantime, visit our website to find out more about the award-winning support we provide across Oxfordshire and its neighbouring counties.

Find out more about Aspire by visiting aspireoxfordshire.org or on our Univ in the Community page. You can also email Aspire.

Image credit: Nick Fewings

Published: 30 July 2020

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