A new city-wide partnership was launched last week to reduce rough sleeping in Oxford.

Designed to be “innovative and inclusive,” the Oxford Homeless Movement (OHM) is a partnership of local homeless charities, housing providers, the Oxford City Council and health providers, among others.

The movement aims to bring greater visibility to all Oxford’s work in the sector, guiding volunteers and homeless people alike.

At the launch, celebrated on World Homeless Day (October 10), partner organisations announced a range of new, collaborative measures to reduce the number of rough sleepers on Oxford’s streets.

Launched at Open House, a public talking shop on housing and homelessness, the movement called on the public to raise £1.5 million in six months to help tackle rough sleeping. The website will allow people to make donations online.

Jane Cranston, chairwoman of Oxford Homeless Movement, said at the launch: “The one thing that is inevitable is that help needs money.

“All the organisations in the sector, including the government ones, are strapped for cash, and if we, through this community movement, can raise £1 million or more just think what a difference we could make.”

This initiative is the result of years of increasing street homelessness, with figures reaching record levels in 2017. The Office for National Statistics estimated that 33 homeless people died in Oxford between 2013 and 2017, making the city one of the worst areas in the country for rough sleepers.

Councillor Linda Smith said: “We’re doing more than ever before to prevent and reduce rough sleeping, including more beds and better assessment services to help people off the streets as quickly as possible.

“But the number of people experiencing homelessness is still too high. We have to undertake street counts every two months and what we’re finding is that a quarter of people are new to the streets. We can’t end homelessness on our own. We need Oxford to join us in the Movement and help beat homelessness together.”

With around 40 organisations participating, organisers of the OHM hope to trial new approaches and make seeking help easier.

The new measures include a citywide charter created by Oxford’s homelessness agencies and charities to ensure nobody should have to sleep rough on the streets.

It aims to increase public awareness and understanding of rough sleeping and generate funding to deliver effective and permanent solutions.

A new Impact Fund is designed to close the “critical gaps” in the city’s response to reduce rough sleeping, as part of a collective fundraising effort under the initiative.

Cranston added: “It’s time we all said ‘Enough is enough’. It will take a whole city effort if we are to have a serious go at preventing anybody from having to sleep rough on our streets.

“Oxford Homeless Movement is an exciting step in the right direction. Getting this far has required huge progress in co-operation and trust and to truly launch the Movement we need you – individuals and Oxford based businesses and organisations – to come on board and get involved.

“Join the Movement today by signing the charter, raising awareness and understanding of homelessness and commit to volunteering or to making a donation. We all have a role to play.”

Together with the efforts of the OHM, many local organisations and individuals are lending their support to preventing rough sleeping in Oxford.

In September, a pilot Housing First scheme was launched enabling rough sleepers from South Oxfordshire to receive local housing and intensive support, and a new supported accommodation service at Matilda House has been commissioned, offering support and shelter for 22 people participating, organisers of the OHM hope to trial new approaches and make seeking help easier.

The new measures include a citywide charter created by Oxford’s homelessness agencies and charities to ensure nobody should have to sleep rough on the streets. It aims to increase public awareness and understanding of rough sleeping and generate funding to deliver effective and permanent solutions.

A new Impact Fund is designed to close the “critical gaps” in the city’s response to reduce rough sleeping, as part of a collective fundraising effort under the initiative. Cranston added: “It’s time we all said ‘Enough is enough’. It will take a whole city effort if we are to have a serious go at preventing anybody from having to sleep rough on our streets.

“Oxford Homeless Movement is an exciting step in the right direction. Getting this far has required huge progress in co-operation.”