A DROP-IN centre for the homeless in Oxford has welcomed former guests, volunteers, local dignitaries and supporters for its 30th anniversary celebration.

On World Homeless Day the Gatehouse welcomed around 200 people to the Kings Centre in Osney Mead to help mark its third decade of providing help, support and advice to the city’s homeless and vulnerably housed.

The event featured a look at the history of the charity, as well as talks from Homeless Link on homelessness across the country, as well as on local issues from the Oxford Winter Night Shelter.

Event organiser, and project director, Katrina Horne, said at the end of the evening: “It’s absolutely amazing to see so many people gathering together to celebrate the good work that has been done over the past 30 years, and the positive impact that the Gatehouse has had on so many individual lives.

“There is still a huge hill to climb in terms of solving the homelessness issue, so here’s to another thirty years.

“I’d quite like somebody else to organise the 60th Anniversary event though.”

The Gatehouse, based in Woodstock Road, was initially started by Oxford City churches as a winter daytime shelter in 1988, however, the range of services soon began to grow.

It became a charitable trust in 1991 and is staffed mainly by a team of dedicated volunteers.

Chairman of the trustees, Reverend Canon Andrew Bunch, said the well-attended event exhibited the community’s collective will to help provide support to the most vulnerable.

And while in an ideal world, such organisations would not be needed, Rev Bunch said he hoped the Gatehouse would continue its work for a long time to come.

He added: “I am vicar of a church that was originally founded to help the homeless and we’re soon to be celebrated our 900th year.

“It’s an ongoing problem, and it will always be arising because of a number of different things going on in our society and unless we are willing to collectively do the things the put these right, there will be a need for organisations like the Gatehouse.”

Oxford City Council currently believes there to be about 36 people sleeping rough in the city.

For more information on the Gatehouse visit www.oxfordgatehouse.org