A GROUP of youngsters on a mission to solve Oxford’s homelessness crisis are urging families and businesses to dig deep into their pockets.

Sisters Libby and Flo Hadfield teamed up with friend Eve Shorten to raise cash for the city’s homeless after having their eyes opened to their struggles three years ago.

The girls were left in tears when they saw a homeless man outside Tesco Metro, in Cowley Road, being ignored by passers-by as he begged for food and spare change.

Since then they have held cake sales in their front gardens and scoured their homes for clothes and toys to sell.

They handed over their latest donations to East Oxford homeless shelter The Porch Steppin’ Stone Centre on Monday.

Didcot Girls’ School student Eve, 12, said: “We watched how people just ignored him and didn’t care about him so we decided to do something about it and make a difference.

“It was really upsetting. It made us think how we have all the stuff the man doesn’t have and still we ask for more.”

The young fundraisers decided to set up their own website after their encounter with the homeless man, going by the group name ELF, using the initials of their first names.

On the site, they call on Oxford residents to do more for their homeless neighbours and urge businesses to take on homeless people.

They also tell the story of 34-year-old Cathy Johnson, a former homeless woman who the girls met while she was sleeping rough.

The girls own leaflets for fundraisers, delivering their handmade creations to neighbours and passers-by in Florence Park.

Eve, of Boars Hill, said: “We’re going to keep going and going.

“I think everyone should be doing more to help make a difference to the homeless.

“One person can do a bit but not a lot, but if we have lots of people doing stuff, that’s better – it’s making a bigger difference.

“We really want to make a difference and help give homeless people a place to live for a while until they can find a job and then get on with their lives.”

Jane Gallagher, mother to Oxford Spires Academy student Libby, 12, and Larkrise Primary School pupil Flo, nine, said she was proud of the girls.

The 48-year-old, from Florence Park, said: “They felt an extreme sense of despair when they saw somebody homeless, begging.

“They really want to make a difference in the world, instead of wishing to be a pop star or a celebrity.

“It’s a lovely thing for them to be doing.

“It shows how much compassion children have for other people in the world. It’s very heartening to see.”

Visit sponsorthehomelesswithelf.weebly.com for more information.