GIVING people who have a 'lived experience' of homelessness voice in local decision-making is the new year's resolution of a group working in Oxford.

The Oxfordshire Homeless Movement, a network of organisations trying to end street sleeping, is running its third Christmas appeal, with backing from the Oxford Mail.

While a lot of the cash raised will go towards frontline services to help the homeless, one of the projects it will also help is something called the Lived Experience Advisory Forum.

This is a partnership between the Oxfordshire Homeless Movement, and charities Aspire and The Gatehouse that will make sure people who have their own experience of being homeless are listened to and can influence the services offered to others in the future.

The Oxfordshire Homeless Movement (OHM) has said one of its 'key priorities' and needs for ongoing funding is this forum, which is also known as LEAF.

The forum helps to make sure that representation is at the core of ending rough sleeping in Oxfordshire.

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LEAF’s panel members have real-world experience of homelessness, and work in equal partnership with charities and local councils to inform the development and design of homelessness services, both existing and future.

This model is known as ‘co-production’, and provides the chance to learn from other projects working in a similar way in other parts of the country.

Oxford-based homelessness charity The Gatehouse will host a new LEAF Coordinator role, with the new appointee starting in January 2021.

Gatehouse project director Katrina Horne said: “OHM recognises that people with lived experience of homelessness bring an expertise to the sector that is unique, and focuses on people who are experiencing homelessness as individuals who have a diverse range of needs and life experiences.

"LEAF has big plans for 2021, which will be made possible by the appointment of a dedicated coordinator.”

Oxford Mail:

OHM believes that being part of LEAF also brings people with lived experience of homelessness an increase in confidence and skills, as well as an opportunity not just to be heard, but to be involved in an authentic and empowering way.

OHM Chair Jane Cranston says: “We are incredibly proud to have supported the development of the Lived Experience Advisory Forum. Crucially, the monthly meetings are chaired and developed by the participants. Although Covid 19 has presented challenges to this model of work – for example, not everyone can access the internet – the momentum and motivation of the group has not changed.”

OHM is running its third Christmas appeal to help raise funds to find lasting solutions to homelessness and fill the gaps that other services can’t, including the involvement of LEAF and tackling wider structural issues.

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Between Tuesday, December 8 and Friday, January 8, Oxfordshire Community Foundation is pledging to match the first £20,000 of donations to OHM.

The pledge to double the difference will apply to both one-off and repeat donations made during the Christmas period. When eligible for Gift Aid, a typical £30 donation will be worth £67.50.

You can donate online at or by sending a cheque to Oxfordshire Homeless Movement, PO Box 941, Oxford OX1 9TQ.

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