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Student sets up ‘Bridge of Charity’ outside station

An Oxford DPhil student has set up ‘Bridge of Charity’, an initiative where donated bags of food and basic necessities are hung on the pedestrian bridge outside Oxford train station. It is designed to combat food poverty while resources are under pressure during the pandemic.

Alexandra Fergen, studying for a DPhil in Modern History at Merton, encourages volunteers to fill a bag with essentials and write the contents on the bag. They can then be collected for free by people who need them. The initiative is inspired by the Gabenzäune (donation fences) seen around Germany, her home country.

The initiative has already been well received. After the first day, many of the bags were taken overnight and were replaced with new donations.

Fergen told Cherwell: “Bridge of Charity is a local initiative that I am organising in response to that pandemic. It basically seeks to help those who lack the money or access to basic goods and other necessities in these difficult times.

“I’m setting this up is because research shows that the pandemic has exacerbated food insecurity in the UK and many people are being are forced to skip meals. Many food banks and soup kitchens and other charities that are really important are closed or only offering limited services. As lockdown continues and as the number of cases increases, food insecurity becomes an ever-growing problem.

“The beauty of this initiative is that there is no middle man. It’s easy and its self-sufficient, but it really depends on the community and people’s willingness to participate. I hope that it will be welcomed here as well. I decided to set it up on a bridge, this particular bridge because of its central location of course, but also more generally because of its symbolism. A bridge is symbolic of community, cooperation, and support.”

The initiative can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and people are encouraged to post pictures of their contributions with #bridgeofcharityoxford.

Image provided by Alexandra Fergen

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