A DAY centre has transformed its vital services to help rough sleepers and other vulnerable people in Oxford during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Porch, which usually runs a cafe from its East Oxford hub, is now offering a mobile and takeaway service to provide more than 100 meals each day, as well as essential items, to those in need.

Director Jon Fitzpatrick said: “Almost over night the majority of services either closed or due to staff working from home could not deliver a full level of service."

Oxford Mail:

He said the homeless charity quickly adapted to delivery, explaining: “We couldn’t just walk away and look after ourselves, people needed support before Covid-19, during Covid-19 and will continue to need support long after Covid-19."

Mr Fitzpatrick said services were starting to respond but there were still gaps in support, adding: “The Porch is fortunate that we had begun our Covid-19 planning back in January and so began to order in items such as PPE and started planning for our new kind of service provision.”

In partnership with Oxford City Council The Porch is now providing a food drop-off point in Bonn Square, opposite the Westgate Centre, and has been feeding 30 people every day.

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The charity is also supporting Homeless Oxfordshire clients who live in supported housing by delivering meals to 27 clients a day, as well as Connections Floating Support by delivering meals to 32 clients.

The Porch also offers a takeaway to those needing daily exercise from the centre between 12pm and 2pm and have been seeing upward of 50 people each day, with social distancing and extra hygiene measures used.

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Mr Fitzpatrick said the charity's 'amazing' volunteers have turned the cafe area in Magdalen Road into a 'mini production line' and that as well as food delivery the charity team is ringing and seeing the majority of its members daily.

He said: “This allows us to monitor health and give vital face to face interaction, something that is hugely beneficial to peoples mental health.”

A dedicated JustGiving page to fund The Porch's coronavirus response has already raised more than £10,000 and the centre director said the steps it was taking had placed a 'huge financial pressure' onto the organisation.

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He added: "We'd like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has donated, given their time, offered their support and even left a thank you card pinned to our front door.

“We have seen a massive outpouring of good will and support and we have been humbled by this.

“The Porch team decided early on that we’d work through this crisis and we remain committed, but we wouldn’t be able to do this without the support of the community.”

He said: "Even in these times of social distancing The Porch team has never felt as close to each other as it does now."

Donate to The Porch here or visit theporch.org.uk for more information.