The Problem and what OxPAT offers
The level of homelessness in Oxford is higher than in neighbouring local authority areas. In 2019 the estimated number of homeless people in Oxford was 237. In the last year, the number of rough sleepers has reduced due to the implementation of the ‘Everyone In’ mandate. The number of rough sleepers is high for a city of Oxford's size, with almost 8 persons rough sleeping per 10,000 households in 2019 (using the street count number for 2019). This is significantly higher than the national and regional average, and far higher than the level of rough sleeping seen in the neighbouring Districts.
At the end of 2018 the local authorities estimated that there were 94 people sleeping rough in the City of Oxford, and 119 sleeping rough in the county of Oxfordshire. Despite the best efforts of many agencies, it seems there were of the order of 120 people rough sleeping in Oxford at the end of 2019. The problem of homelessness in the city appears to be particularly intractable. Many of the reasons are well known - the cost of housing in Oxford, the austerity imposed by central government on local government for the last ten years, and the associated cuts to expenditure on housing, mental health and drug services.
The OxPAT Response
Despite the problems, the charities engaged in supporting single homeless people in Oxford continue to do excellent work, and the Oxford Poverty Action Trust (OxPAT) continues to provide a mechanism for concerned citizens to donate to these local charities. Active since 1996 the Oxford Poverty Action Trust (OxPAT) has distributed almost £750,000 to support homeless people in Oxford, including £65,000 in 2020. We have done that by soliciting donations which we then pass to other local charities who are doing good work to help the homeless. OxPAT has no staff or premises and very few costs.
Surveys show that over 70% of money donated directly to the homeless will be spent on drink or drugs. Giving money to OxPAT means that your donation will be channelled through professional charities. These charities have the resources to understand the problems a homeless person is suffering with. The charity can then help develop a plan to help the person to address those problems. The OxPAT money will be spent by the charity involved to directly benefit an individual or individuals. Typically it will be spent on shelter, food, clothing, advice, medical care, and training to help people get a job.
We channel additional funds to projects and initiatives delivered by local charities. The Lucy Group is currently funding two local charities to assist people to develop skills associated with obtaining employment.