Homes4All Oxfordshire : Helping The Homeless

With homelessness in Oxford growing at an alarming rate, the team at Homes4all Oxfordshire pioneered a drop-in café run out of a local shop. They focus on offering friendship and genuine hospitality. So far, they’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response from the homeless community and the generosity of volunteers.

Here’s their inspiring story of community-led action so far and their future plans.

What’s unique or innovative about Homes4All Oxfordshire?

Homes 4 All Oxfordshire is a legally constituted small charity. Its primary purpose is to alleviate the misery of homelessness by offering ‘safe spaces’ where individuals can find a warm welcome and access personalised assistance to help address their needs and aspirations in accordance with their own readiness. We accept people without distinction or qualification and have no agendas. The assistance we offer is person-centred; holistic, individualized and creatively responsive.

What inspired you to start?

Homelessness in Oxfordshire is at crisis levels. The numbers of individuals who are rough sleeping or otherwise without secure accommodation is increasing at an alarmingly rapid rate. There are many wonderful services and agencies that seek to provide support to these individuals, but they simply have not got sufficient resources to cope with many people who have fallen through the gaps or struggle to engage with a standardized approach. Simultaneously, there is a huge amount of public goodwill to help the homeless, but there was a lack of connection and uncertainty about how to help effectively. Homes 4 All Oxfordshire sought to marry up the two. We are actively harnessing public support to provide practical and emotional support to enable people in housing need to move forward in their lives.

Photo credit: Homes For All


What’s your biggest achievement to date?

In the winter of 2017/2018, Homes 4 All Oxfordshire established and operated a drop-in cafe for the homeless in Oxford City Centre, which was managed by trained volunteers. We have ample evidence that the cafe met a genuine need, providing a place where vulnerable individuals could find nourishment, warmth and a safe space to simply ‘be’ without there being any agenda or expectations. It was a place where all were accepted irrespective of their past history or current circumstances, where all were comfortable to be themselves and were treated equally with courtesy, dignity and respect. We developed relationships based on mutual trust and were able to build on these to offer sign-posting, brokerage and referrals to other services. Simultaneously, we attracted a huge amount of public respect and generosity, in the form of donations of food, clothing and money. As a result of this synergy, we witnessed transformations taking place. The feedback that we received from those who accessed the cafe and from the volunteers was overwhelmingly positive.

Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond our control, we had to close the cafe after three weeks; but we remain committed to finding alternative premises to run a similar project on a more permanent basis and we are actively pursuing opportunities for doing so.

What are your plans for the next 6 months? How can people get involved?

On a strategic level, we are actively exploring options for establishing a new cafe facility and are also considering other ways of creating ‘safe spaces’ that would provide over-night accommodation to those in housing crisis (of course, taking into consideration any risks and safeguarding issues).

On an operational level, outreach teams are out on the streets of Oxford on a daily basis engaging with rough sleepers, taking time to learn their stories and identify ways that we can help practically and emotionally. We then respond by giving out donations of clothing and equipment; acting as brokers to connect people up with support agencies and occasionally advocating on their behalf.

The best way for people to get involved is by accessing our Facebook page (a website is also currently being developed), which we keep regularly updated with posts relating to appeals for specified items and volunteers and sharing relevant news and information about our activities.

Please keep in contact with us on our Facebook group !

Photo Credit: Homes For All Oxfordshire


Deborah is the founder of Homes For All Oxfordshire.

Deborah says:

"I'm the founder and having gone through being homeless although only in a hotel for ten months. I am a amputee in a wheelchair and was moved around sometimes nightly. I have been a community person who has, I hope stood up for injustice and wanting to help those who sometimes get lost in a system of failures. 
Tried to lead by example and show a can do attitude ...
Liz Edwards is one of the trustees of Homes 4 All Oxfordshire. She is a degree qualified youth and community worker, who has held a number of positions, both as an employee and volunteer, working on the frontline with disadvantaged individuals to enable them to make informed choices and access the services and resources that they require to fulfil their needs and aspirations. She has also accumulated a wealth of experience in the areas ...
Donna Harris is one of the trustees of Homes 4 All Oxfordshire. She is a  Behavioural and Experimental Economist, drawing insights from psychology, economics, and neuroscience. Her current research examines how social identity and social interactions (through observing other’s choices and face-to-face communication) influence people’s decisions and behaviours in a wide range of context. Donna holds PhD and MPhil in Economics from U...
Tami Warriner is one of the four trustees of Homes 4 All Oxfordshire. She is also a qualified social worker who specialised in adults with learning disabilities. She has worked within the criminal justice system, child welfare, addictions and homelessness. Before the foundation of Homes 4 All Oxfordshire, Tami volunteered in various roles with the homeless of Oxford for nearly 20 years. She is a keen supporter and advocate of many of ou...

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