Pembroke JCR have joined a growing movement across colleges to take action in support of the Oxford homeless community.
It follows a motion by St Anne’s JCR to add a compulsory £1 donation to battels each term for Oxford homelessness charities.
A number of Oxford balls will also see an additional £1 added to support the homeless, in support of the ‘What’s a pound?’ campaign.
Pembroke JCR resolved to support a scheme enabling students to voluntarily donate the price of a meal when paying at the Pembroke Farthings Café. The proceeds from the scheme will go to Porch, a charity which, according to the JCR, “seeks to tackle homelessness at its roots by providing crucial services to society’s most vulnerable populations.”
The JCR noted that “homelessness soared 50 per cent in Oxford from 2015 to 2016, and it continues to rise. At the same time, the homeless’ access to resources is dwindling. Two of Oxford’s largest Homeless shelters, Simon House Hostel and Julian Housing are facing closure, and there is due to be an additional £1.5 million in council funding cuts to related welfare provisions over the next three years.
The JCR expressed the expectation that with the support of the student body the scheme would be able to “help the members of Oxford’s homeless community rebuild their lives.” It is hoped that increased aid to the homeless will continue among Oxford colleges.
First year Materials Science student Josh King told Cherwell: “I think it’s sad to see how bad the situation seems to be getting.
“I’ve seen people on the streets tearful because their services are being cut, and I don’t believe it would take that much effort to change things. It’s a small amount to us, but small amounts of human compassion add up.”
St Hugh’s and St Catherine’s colleges students also voted to pass the motion to support the ‘What’s a pound?’ campaign. The scheme seeks to add £1 to Ball tickets, with the money raised going to a charity of the Ball Committee’s choosing.
The President of this year’s Corpus Christi Ball Committee, Molly Willett, has also pledged to give £1 from any remaining tickets sold to charity.
St Hugh’s JCR expressed their belief that: “Despite our luxuries, such as college balls, we shouldn’t forget the inequality that surrounds us every day” and that “students in a financial position to spend £100 are in a position where spending one more pound would not be problematic to them”.
The President of Law Society, Tom Fadden, has also pledged to add £1 to each ticket sold to their Trinity Term Ball, for a charity voted for by its committee.
The OUSU homelessness campaign, On Your Doorstep, praised the move, telling Cherwell: “It is encouraging to see JCR responses to our drive to introduce a charity battels donation directly to homelessness charities.
“We believe that the University has enough power in Oxford to make a visible difference, and in light of the recent cuts to homelessness services, students’ help is needed now more than ever.
“We would urge everyone who has the means to donate, and we are hoping to take this even further by reaching out to Oxford alumni.”
Homelessness is viewed as one of the biggest issues facing Oxford and the UK as a whole, with many viewing the cost of living in the area too high.
A Cherwell investigation last term showed that the median house price in Oxford increased by 133 per cent from 2001 to 2015 (£150,000—£350,100).
Meanwhile, the investigation also showed that Oxford’s median earnings only increased by 42 per cent in the same period (£21,960—£31,271).