EFFORTS to help the homeless this Christmas are being boosted by musicians through a series of eclectic fundraising concerts.
The Oxford Gatehouse, based next to St Giles Church, in Woodstock Road, Oxford, provides free food, shelter and company to those without homes or who live in substandard accommodation.
Christmas is a particularly busy time for the charity, with resources stretched by an influx of people, suffering from loneliness and the cold. Their work is being backed by artists, singers and volunteers who are giving up their time to help raise funds.
Tonight, jazz fans will pack St Giles Church for the latest in a series of jazz concerts which have already raised thousands of pounds for the centre through regular Saturday night gigs.
The Gypsy Fire show is described as a blend of jazz, classic, world, roots and blues music. It features acclaimed guitarists Stuart Carter-Smith and Ben Travers, bassist Paul Jefferies, and Ben Holder.
Funds will be topped up by the proceeds of a carol concert, also tonight, at New College Chapel. The Christmas Feast is a performance of festive music and readings by New College School Choral Society and the boys of the Chamber Choir, under the baton of conductor Richard Poyser.
The weekend will end tomorrow, with the PinDrop Mid Winter Festival at St John The Evangelist Church, in Iffley Road.
The afternoon and evening event is being organised by promoter and musician Sebastian Reynolds, who plays keyboards with the bands The Epstein and Flights of Helios, both of whom will be performing.
They will be joined by Oxford five-piece Wild Swim; Danny George Wilson, of Danny and The Champions of The World, and an acoustic session featuring Rainbow Reservoir, Until the Bird and Marcus Corbett, among others. Andrew Smith, project director at the Gatehouse, said: “Christmas is always a difficult time for people who are homeless. “They often have bad memories and it can look to them like everyone else is having a party which they haven’t been invited to. Coupled with that is the weather.
“We are grateful for people’s goodwill at this time of year and are always amazed at how people rally around at Christmas.”
“The Gatehouse does amazing work and I respect its ethos and what it is trying to do. “It is somewhere to get warm and have a cup of tea, but also a support network. It does a great job of engaging with people.”
The Gatehouse project was started by the churches of central Oxford as a Christmas emergency shelter in 1988, and still gets much of its support from them. Around 200 volunteers help regularly, serving food, talking to guests and helping with other tasks, supported by a small team of permanent staff.
- Gypsy Fire, at St Giles Church, tonight at 7.30pm. Tickets, £10, from jazzatstgiles.com; The Christmas Feast, at New College Chapel, tonight at 7.30pm. Tickets, £12, from wegottickets.com, or call 01865 730696; The Pin Drop Mid Winter Festival, at St John The Evangelist Church, Iffley Road, tomorrow, starting at 4pm. Tickets, £10, from wegottickets.com