Oxford Winter Night Shelter declared a huge success

THE first Oxford Winter Night Shelter has been declared a huge success. The shelter involved seven city churches which each opened their doors to the homeless one night a week for 89 days.

The project, which was launched this year, will take place again in 2019 with more beds available. The shelter idea arose because of concern about the plight of rough sleepers on the coldest days of the year. Temporary overnight accommodation was provided for up to 10 men and women during the months of January, February and March.

More than 250 volunteers from many different backgrounds were recruited and trained.  They helped serve the 33 guests who were referred by St Mungo’s – the charity that provides a homeless outreach service in Oxford.

At the end of the project 14 of the 33 guests had been supported back into some form of housing. Those who returned to rough sleeping gained from the respite during what was a long and cold winter.  At least six guests were working and found the night shelter helped them to continue working.

The Revd Mary Gurr, Oxford’s homelessness chaplain, said: “We are indebted to our many donors: local charities, churches, colleges, and individuals for their generosity.

“The number of rough sleepers at the beginning of the project was 61 and it is unlikely that number will decrease.  It has been decided, therefore, to increase capacity in the winter of 2019 to 20 guests.”

The churches that took part were:

  • Wesley Memorial
  • St Columba’s URC
  • St Michael at the Northgate
  • St Ebbe’s
  • St Alban’s
  • St Clement’s
  • St Aldate’s

Other churches, the synagogue and colleges twinned with the above to provide practical assistance.