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With the new government rules having come into force on Tuesday 5th January, we have to limit access to our offices by staff, volunteers & clients.

All services are currently operating but we are running services remotely wherever possible. our offices are currently closed to visitors so please only come in if you have booked an appointment or in an emergency.

We are open Monday-Friday; please call us between 10am and 3pm on 01865 722082. Please leave a message if there is no answer and we will get back to you as soon as we can. If you know the number or email address of the person that you need to contact then do contact them directly.


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Click here to find out more about our campaign "Oxford has a heart - and it's orange!"

News

The 70th Anniversary of the Refugee Convention, and why it matters today

Wednesday, July 28, 2021


The 28th July 2021 marks the 70th anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention. The Convention was signed in 1951 by a group of nations that agreed to welcome people displaced by the events of the Second World War and its aftermath. In 1967, the Convention expanded to include all people fleeing persecution, and this has been the foundation of our asylum system ever since.


On Tuesday 20th June, however, the Nationality and Borders Bill passed its Second Reading in the House of Commons by 366 votes to 265. This legislation, according to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR), violates the terms of the Refugee Convention, a convention which the UK helped to draft.


The government has also published their response to the consultation which proceeded this Bill, and to which Asylum Welcome contributed. While it is disappointing that no changes were implemented as a result of what some people are calling a 'sham' consultation, it is heartening that 75% of respondents expressed opposition to the government's reforms. It is the voices of this 75% that we are amplifying through our mini-exhibition over the next three weeks.


Our mini-exhibition, Have Heart, Take Heart, is made up of around 150 postcards displaying messages of support and solidarity for refugees and asylum seekers in Oxfordshire, written and posted to us over the past month. Visitors will have the opportunity to contribute their own messages of solidarity to the wall, and to honour the spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention by showing that refugees are a core part of our community.


Details for Have Heart, Take Heart

Location: The Upper Gallery at the Old Fire Station (40 George Street, Oxford OX1 2AQ).

Dates: From Wednesday 28th July to Saturday 21st August.

Times: the exhibition space is open 10am to 4pm, Wednesday to Saturday.


Please continue to wear a mask indoors if you are able to.


Thank you to those who have written one of these postcards, displayed an orange heart in your window, and/or contacted you MPs over the past few weeks. All of these actions contribute to creating a more welcoming atmosphere for refugees and asylum seekers in Oxfordshire. 




OHM partners rally round to prevent five people from returning to the streets

Friday, July 23, 2021

Originally published in Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

As temporary accommodation at Canterbury House had to be handed back, five people with no recourse to public funds were at risk of returning to rough sleeping. Thanks to a rapid response from University College and other partners in Oxfordshire Homeless Movement, these people are now safely housed.

During the first lockdown, people experiencing homelessness were brought in from the streets as part of the Government’s ‘Everyone In’ initiative. In Oxford, people were housed in hotels and youth hostels around the city until the City Council reached an agreement with Oxford Brookes University to lease Canterbury House until July 2021. As this lease came to end last week, five residents had still not found the necessary move-on accommodation. All were ineligible for statutory support or funding due to their countries of origin, and were at serious risk of returning to the streets.

Having tried to secure accommodation in the weeks prior to closure to no avail, on the day the lease on Canterbury House ended Oxfordshire Homeless Movement (OHM) Project Manager Yvonne Pinner made an urgent phone call to Angela Unsworth, Domestic Bursar at University College. Angela sits on OHM’s steering group representing Oxford University.

Angela came back extraordinarily quickly with a house and authority to use it until September, which gives the Movement valuable time to find a more permanent solution. OHM immediately mobilised its partners to move the five guests in:

  • University College has given over a house free of charge, with ensuite facilities for each room, and is also paying for all utilities and providing key items such as white goods. They arranged for the property to be cleaned, and alongside housing workers from Connection Support welcomed all the guests on the day they arrived.
  • Connection Support is providing 121 assistance needed for guests while staying in Univ’s property.
  • Aspire quickly arranged the necessary licence agreements with University College and the guests.
  • The Gatehouse provided a large starter food pack and other necessities, and will be delivering weekly food parcels for each guest during their stay.
  • St Mungo’s provided advice and arranged for the five guests to be transported from Canterbury House to their new residence.
  • Asylum Welcome gave crucial background information on the five guests to ensure their specific support needs could be met.

A project to secure long-term accommodation for people with no recourse to public funds is also underway, which will also provide tailored support for each person, to the point where they become self-sufficient and contribute positively to the Oxfordshire community.

Jane Cranston, OHM Chair, comments: “This is a truly fabulous example of what working together can do – and so quickly! It shows that people and organisations everywhere are motivated by their common humanity – but also that drive, trust and collaboration really do make good things happen. I have to give a particular thank you to Yvonne, who had a sleepless night wondering what she could do to stop these five people ending up on the streets. The next step is long-term accommodation – but this provides a valuable breathing space.”

Find out more about Oxfordshire Homeless Movement


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