Skip to main content
Burger menu bars Cross to close menu

Creating long-term solutions post-pandemic

Two projects, supported by funds raised through Oxfordshire Homeless Movement (OHM), helped people experiencing homelessness and vulnerably housed people transition successfully from emergency Covid-19 accommodation, to an independent life in their own self-supported housing.

Matched by funds from Oxfordshire Community Foundation, OHM raised over £150,000 at the start of 2020, which supported people experiencing homelessness who had previously been housed during the Covid-19 pandemic, improve their lives for the long term.

A share of the money set up a new impact fund, which proactively identifies projects that increase ‘move-on’ housing and prevent homelessness. Despite the changes brought about by the pandemic during this time, two applications stood out as being immediately transferable to the environment at the time: local charities Aspire and ACT were awarded grants totalling over £54,000.

Both projects built on the fact that during Covid-19, it was necessary to bring all rough sleepers inside to keep them safe, and to close some of the communal sleeping areas in the city’s homeless shelters. As a result, Oxford’s rough sleepers were housed in hotels and student accommodation in the city. These two projects addressed what happened next: using a housing-led approach, where access to stable accommodation is not dependent on overcoming the problems that led a person to become homeless, but rather they are supported to address their problems knowing they are safe and warm first.

Both charities worked with landlords in the city to provide affordable rentals to people experiencing homelessness. Once housed, beneficiaries were given the support they needed to tackle addictions and mental health issues, improve their physical wellbeing, manage their finances and gain work experience. Beneficiaries were assisted in practical concerns such as drawing down housing benefit and accessing ID.

ACT Chair Chris Gillies commented: “Each individual presenting to us has a unique story with a variety of often complex needs. Very occasionally individuals are supported towards independence within a year, but more often than not they require several years of support. We build strong, supportive relationships with each tenant, liaising carefully with our teams and partners to evaluate each person’s progress towards independence and readiness to move on.”

Aspire CEO Paul Roberts said: “Our experience in supporting highly vulnerable people has shown us that a person-centred and intense approach is crucial to help each person live independently. Once they move on, we stay in touch. They are encouraged to access Aspire’s wider support to build their skills, confidence, self-esteem and employability.”

OHM continued to plan fit-for-purpose accommodation, and considering needs, sources and costs once the emergency support ended. OHM's advisory panel of people with lived experience of homelessness (LEAF) continued to be involved in every aspect of its decision-making.

To ensure that we can continue making an impact to the lives of those experiencing homelessness in Oxfordshire post-pandemic, please consider donating to us today