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Oxfordshire Homeless Movement partner

View across Oxford from Univ towerIn July 2021, Univ stepped in alongside Oxfordshire Homeless Movement to provide accommodation for five residents of Canterbury House who had not found the necessary move-on accommodation.

In the first lockdown, Government’s “Everyone In” initiative tried to ensure people experiencing homelessness were brought in from the streets. In Oxford, people were housed in hotels and youth hostels around the city until the City Council reached an agreement with Oxford Brookes University to lease Canterbury House until July 2021. The five residents were ineligible for statutory support or funding due to their countries of origin, and were at serious risk of returning to the streets.

However, no alternative accommodation could be found for the five residents and on the day the lease on Canterbury House ended Oxfordshire Homeless Movement (OHM) Project Manager Yvonne Pinner made an urgent phone call to Angela Unsworth MBE, Domestic Bursar at Univ. Angela sits on OHM’s steering group representing Oxford University.

Angela came back extraordinarily quickly with a house and authority to use it until September, giving OHM valuable time to find a more permanent solution. OHM immediately mobilised its partners to move the five guests in. Univ has given over a house free of charge, with ensuite facilities for each room, and is also paying for all utilities and providing key items such as white goods. They arranged for the property to be cleaned, and alongside housing workers from Connection Support welcomed all the guests on the day they arrived.

Organisations across Oxford provided further support. Connection Support provided assistance for guests while staying in Univ’s property. Aspire quickly arranged the necessary licence agreements with University College and the guests. The Gatehouse provided a large starter food pack and other necessities, and will be delivering weekly food parcels for each guest during their stay. St Mungo’s gave advice and arranged for the five guests to be transported from Canterbury House to their new residence. Asylum Welcome communicated crucial background information on the five guests to ensure their specific support needs could be met.

Jane Cranston, OHM Chair, commented, “This is a truly fabulous example of what working together can do – and so quickly! It shows that people and organisations everywhere are motivated by their common humanity – but also that drive, trust and collaboration really do make good things happen.”

In 2020, Univ handed over one of our properties, comprising 12 bedspaces, to Oxford City Council, for it to be run by St Mungo’s, which Angela wrote about here. In addition to this initiative, Angela has been coordinating various other plans, including a hot meal delivery service for elderly and vulnerable people provided by Univ’s amazing kitchen staff.

You can find out more about the Oxfordshire Homeless Movement on their website.

Published: 13 August 2021

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