ONE of Oxford’s leading homelessness agencies has been given a £100,000 grant from the government so it can continue its vital work supporting rough sleepers.

Homeless Oxfordshire, which runs Oxford Night Shelter, has welcomed the cash injection from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government as it has been difficult to raise funds during the coronavirus lockdown and this led to a significant drop in income.

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Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Homeless Oxfordshire continued to operate by offering a frontline service to 200 clients.

This grant will recover some of the lost income, allowing the charity to continue to support some of the most vulnerable people in Oxfordshire.

Between March and July, the charity had to spend £15,000 on PPE and additional resources to enable them to be Covid-secure.

This was a large unforeseen expense that was compounded by other, even bigger financial losses.

Oxford Mail:

Claire Dowan

Claire Dowan, CEO of Homeless Oxfordshire, said: “We have had to work hard to adapt and change how we operate to be able to continue to provide our essential services during this pandemic.

"This has had a considerable impact on our finances and this emergency funding is a huge help that will enable us to continue to do this critical work across the county.”

The funding has been distributed by Homeless Link on behalf of the government.

Oxford Mail:

Rick Henderson, chief executive of Homeless Link, the national membership charity for frontline homelessness services, said: “Homelessness charities have continued to provide invaluable support to those who rely upon them, despite suffering a fall in income as a result of the current public health crisis. We are delighted to be able to provide emergency funding to help Homeless Oxfordshire continue its essential work to prevent and end local homelessness through this pandemic and beyond.”

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When the lockdown started in March councils were instructed by the government to accommodate rough sleepers in hotels or other accommodation and this has led to a significant reduction in the number of people in the city sleeping rough.

Oxford Mail:

During the pandemic, the city council spent £600,000 to make 120 rooms available for rough sleepers and helped 52 of them into more long-term accommodation.

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Last month the government confirmed that £105m of funding had been made available to help continue the ‘Everyone In’ programme, although the council does not yet know how much new funding it will receive or when it will be allocated.