Here we feature photos from the Oxford Mail archive from 1994.

It was the year when protesters demonstrated against Campsfield House detention centre, near Kidlington, and Icolyn ‘Ma’ Smith was cooking up dishes for the homeless in Oxford.

Aladdin was one of the productions at the Playhouse, and dinner ladies dressed up at Lord Williams's School in Thame.

For over three decades Mrs Smith has been feeding the city’s homeless.

Read again: How 'Ma' Smith has cooked up meals for the homeless

She was awarded an MBE for her efforts as well as a Pride of Britain award in 2018.

Oxford Mail:

Much of her work has been carried out by a team working for the Oxford Community Soup Kitchen at the Asian Cultural Centre in Manzil Way.

Mrs Smith was originally inspired to help others when she moved from rural Jamaica in 1965 and saw a young man searching through rubbish bins for something to eat.

Read more: Opening of new city centre hotel is delayed again

In 2020, then aged 90, she said: "Since the lockdown we’ve never stopped but we weren’t able to cook the food in the centre due to the coronavirus.”

Oxford Mail:

The soup kitchen reopened in December 2020 after being forced to close for a short time due to the pandemic.

During the pandemic, staff and volunteers had to adapt to provide support.

Read more: Nine photos of riots and protests at Campsfield House

Her son, Gary Smith, initially reached out to Tesco on Cowley Road for support with sandwiches from March to May that year and subsequently to Kebab Kid and KFC.

Oxford Mail:

The Icolyn Smith Foundation is a registered charity based in Cowley, which supports the soup kitchen.

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About the author 

Andy is the Trade and Tourism reporter for the Oxford Mail and you can sign up to his newsletters for free here. 

He joined the team more than 20 years ago and he covers community news across Oxfordshire.

His Trade and Tourism newsletter is released every Saturday morning. 

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