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    New day support venue for the homeless and vulnerably-housed opening in Oxford

    Anvee Bhutani reports on a new day support centre for the homeless in Oxford.

    The Oxford Winter Night Shelter will be working with St Clement’s Parish Property to set up a new day support centre to offer respite, hospitality and encouragement to those who are homeless and vulnerably housed.

    The new day centre, known as the “Living Room”, will provide support in a small and friendly environment to its guests, specially targeting those who may feel more able to engage in this setting. The Living Room is to be based in the St Clement’s area in a property owned by St Clement’s Parish Property, with its purpose being providing relief to those in need within the local community. The next few months will be spent in refurbishing the venue and finalising the operations and it is hoped that the Living Room will be able to open its doors during the summer 2021.

    Through discussions with partner agencies, the Oxford Winter Night Shelter has established that there is a real need to provide support and companionship to members of the community, as the feelings of isolation and loneliness have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Living Room will operate with high staff to guest ratios in order that the guests can be given the attention that they need to ensure a positive experience. The Oxford Winter Night Shelter will work closely with agencies to obtain referrals to the centre and to provide joint support.

    The Oxford Winter Night Shelter was set up three years ago to provide overnight accommodation to the homeless and rough sleepers of Oxford during the winter months. Due to restrictions imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic it has not been able to operate the shelters this winter and rough sleepers are instead being given temporary accommodation under the “Everyone In” initiative. However, when it is possible to do so, the Oxford Winter Night Shelter intends to reopen its doors, whilst continuing the Living Room operation. The Oxford Winter Night Shelter operates through the support of its volunteers, donors and churches across central Oxford and wider afield.

    Mary Gurr, Founder and Chair of the Oxford Winter Night Shelter and Chaplain to the Homeless said: “I am delighted the OWNS is able to work in partnership with St Clements and with our partner organisations. It is hoped this new initiative will address issues of loneliness and isolation and provide sanctuary and practical help to some of the most vulnerable and needy people in our community.”

    Reverend Rachel Gibson, Chair of St Clements Parish Property further added: “St Clement’s Parish Property Trustees have been delighted to work with OWNS and its other partner churches and organisations since it began. We’re really pleased that we’re now also able to help in setting up the new day centre, which we hope will provide a warm welcome, companionship and support to its guests.”

    Image Credit: Motacilla / CC BY-SA 3.0

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