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Univ chefs feeding the vulnerable

OMF LogoAs we wrap up April in lockdown and anticipate more of the same, I would share with you some other of the activity which is keeping us out of mischief at the moment in College. You will now know that we have been quietly committed to pulling our weight in community initiatives, supporting local rough sleeping and homeless charities in trying to end the problem of people having to sleep rough on our streets. There is much that the Colleges and the University, united, can achieve here; I hope that we can gather the energy to act collectively with the Town to find lasting solutions. With threats come opportunities and this is an opportunity for lasting good like no other we have seen in recent times. I will be expending every effort to make this a reality and hope to count on the support of so many who are like minded in the next months. If everyone just does what they can, collectively we make a huge difference.

Logistics can be tricky at the best of times, but add a time imperative and a lack of resources to a task and it becomes a real head scratcher. Having successfully got people off the streets during COVID-19, Oxford City Council find themselves with additional extensive challenges; making change endure, finding long term solutions beyond the strict lockdown and, it seems, feeding people while these issues are addressed. Across the city, foodbanks and charities which feed the homeless, such as The Gatehouse, have closed their doors as the pandemic continues to bite. AGE UK have also stopped their deliveries of hot meals to aged and vulnerable people across the city through their Home Care scheme. A number of vulnerable people, some living with dementia, are becoming more exposed as we can see every day.

Anyone familiar with management will recognise that leading a team without a real task in hand can be challenging. I make no apology for adding that chefs, who are used to intense operating environments, will perhaps be the most prone to getting bored and fractious as furlough continues. So it came as no surprise to me that my Head and Sous Chefs – Paul Moloney and Matt Andrews – have been champing at the bit to do something for the common good. And they have found it. After an approach to the College by Oxford Mutual Aid (OMA), we are piloting a programme of work at the College in conjunction with OMA, AGE UK and the Oxford Homeless Movement and lead by our Head Chef, Paul Moloney.

We at Univ have access to suppliers who we would wish to support through this period; we have commercial kitchens with excellent food hygiene ratings. Most importantly, we also have skilled, qualified and committed staff who are volunteering their expertise and their time to cook simple, hot meals for distribution by the OMA network to those in need across the city, including the elderly and homeless. We are collaborating with other Colleges and schools in the city to pass on our experience of making initiatives like this work, benefitting more people in need across the city. One decent meal a day can make a big difference to the quality of life of those in need and the team spirit generated by being in this together benefits us all.

At risk of repetition, I once again I find myself proud to be part of Team Univ. I look forward to us all being back together; stay safe.

Angela Unsworth, Domestic Bursar

Can you help?
If you are interested in helping Univ feed the City’s vulnerable at this time please email Angela.Unsworth@univ.ox.ac.uk

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