The Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, John Healey MP, joined Anneliese Dodds, MP for Oxford East, and Councillor Linda Smith, Deputy Leader of Oxford City Council and Board Member for Leisure and Housing, to visit Oxford homelessness services on Wednesday 7 November 2018.
During the visit, Anneliese and John met workers from Aspire Oxford and St Mungo’s outreach team (OxSPOT) at the multi-agency rough sleeper hub in Bonn Square, staff at Homeless Oxfordshire’s O’Hanlon House, and Oxford City Council’s rough sleeping and single homelessness team.
St Mungo’s and Homeless Oxfordshire are delivering new beds and services to prevent and reduce rough sleeping as part of the government’s temporary Rough Sleeper Initiative (RSI) funding.
Anneliese Dodds MP said: “It was really good that John Healey, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Housing, could come to Oxford both to see some of the positive innovations happening in our city, but also the worrying increase in rough sleeping here in Oxford. John has led Labour’s policy development in this field, ensuring that we are committed to building 100,000 genuinely affordable homes a year and to radically improving support for rough sleepers. It is good that he has been able to see how high-quality services can be provided for people who are rough sleeping, but also the scale of the challenge that we face here.”
Councillor Linda Smith said: “I’m delighted to welcome John Healey to Oxford to see how we and our partners are tackling rough sleeping in Oxford. This new funding means we are delivering extra beds and better services that will help us to reduce rough sleeping this winter. We have already added an extra 41 beds for rough sleepers to the 167 that were already in place in Oxford, and we are in discussions about opening up to 20 further beds in winter shelters in our neighbouring districts.
“Homeless Oxfordshire is a key partner in helping us deliver RSI beds. Ten spaces have been added to the Sit Up service at O’Hanlon House, providing short-term accommodation while rough sleepers’ support needs are assessed. Homeless Oxfordshire has also opened 17 new beds in three separate dispersed accommodation projects. These are made up of five “move on” beds at local housing allowance rates for people who are working or moving into work, five beds in a women-only project, and seven pre-recovery beds in a partnership project with Turning Point.
“OxSPOT has been working with services like Aspire, Crisis and Turning Point in the new rough sleeper hub since September. The hub’s multi-agency approach allows a more holistic assessment of rough sleepers’ accommodation and support needs than before. Together with three extra OxSPOT outreach staff, this means we can help more people get the accommodation and support they need to rebuild their lives more quickly.”
RSI funding for new services comes from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG). The Council successfully bid for £503,000 in RSI funding for 2018/19, and the MHCLG has provisionally awarded a further £511,000 for 2019/20.”