A NEW project funded by public donations could help bring an end to rough sleeping in Oxfordshire.

During the pandemic, councils and voluntary organisations in Oxfordshire were moved to find temporary accommodation for over 200 people who were sleeping rough.

These people were safer, and were then able to get help with rebuilding their lives.

The Oxfordshire Homeless Movement which co-ordinates efforts to help the homeless thinks they could end homelessness in Oxfordshire as a result of this work, which relies on a 'housing first approach'.

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But due to the uncertainty over how long cash will last to help rough sleepers there is a risk some will return to the streets.

And in Oxfordshire, there are more than 20 people most at risk because they are not eligible for public funding: so-called no recourse to public funds.

Some are from European Economic Area countries; others are from outside this and have a pending asylum claim.

OHM Vice-Chair Neil Preddy said: “In many cases this policy leaves people destitute. However, for them living in hardship in Oxfordshire is preferable to a return to their own countries, where they may face danger or even worse conditions.”

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Without access to public services, it is a huge challenge to find a viable long-term solution for this small but very vulnerable group.

Oxfordshire Homeless Movement has convened a coalition of voluntary organisations to help people with no recourse to public funds to become self-sufficient.

It is hoped that, with the right funding, the project can be delivered by the most experienced local organisations in this field: Aspire, Connection Support and Asylum Welcome.

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The project will adhere closely to ‘housing first’ principles.

OHM is running its third Christmas appeal to help raise funds to find lasting solutions to homelessness, backed by the Oxford Mail.

Between Tuesday, December 8, and Friday, January 8, Oxfordshire Community Foundation is pledging to match the first £20,000 of donations. When eligible for Gift Aid, a typical £30 donation will be worth £67.50.

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