Since our foundation in 1995, we’ve been providing exceptional support services for people experiencing homelessness across Oxfordshire. It’s where we first began, and although our charity has grown and expanded into other areas and services, solving homelessness remains at the heart of what we do. Over the past 27 years, the world has certainly changed, but our teams have always ensured the focus remains on the individual; to understand their unique set of circumstances, so we’re able to tailor the support we provide.
The ‘No Recourse to Public Funds’ (NRPF) project was formed in April 2021 by Oxfordshire Homeless Movement (OHM) after a clear need was identified for around 20 people who were experiencing homelessness but could not access any state-funded support. People in this situation are often not allowed to work; neither are they eligible for benefits, nor allowed to use public services except for basic health care. This puts them under incredible pressure and leaves them at high risk of abuse and exploitation.
We are working in partnership with Aspire and Asylum Welcome to help this group of people move on from the trauma of homelessness, and support them to lead productive lives. Working with local housing association Soha and Edge Housing, we have been able to offer these clients dignified accommodation, whilst they receive help and advice to resolve any legal matters and help them to get their lives back on track.
Massod said: “Since I have been offered accommodation, I feel more relaxed despite having multiple health conditions, I appreciate very much the room I have been given, the bus pass and the money I have been receiving. It’s making my life much easier, and I don’t have to worry how to travel to my doctor and hospital appointments. I have enough money to feed myself properly, which I haven’t had for a long time”.
Last month OHM received confirmation of significant funding for the next four years, from a generous private donor who is impressed with the work we have been doing to support this client group. This funding means we are on track to reach the project objective of housing and supporting the full group of 20 people. Around the same time, we also received some fantastic news – our first client has been granted leave to remain in the UK and has received his biometric residence permit (BRP).
Massod said: “I now have a sense of freedom. I have now got ID meaning that when people ask me, I can show them who I am and what immigration status I have. I am happy and I have hope that I can and will be able to see my family one day. I hope I can bring my wife to the UK to live with me and look after me as I need her to be close to me as I have many health issues. I need her near to me as I miss her a lot.”
This unmet need is of course not just limited to the county of Oxfordshire. In October 2020 we were commissioned by Buckinghamshire Council to provide a similar service to clients across the county. Working alongside Wycombe Homeless Connection, who have provided us with a translator, we have been able to work closely with this group of clients to provide the support they need. Unfortunately, funding was only secured for a year, and we have since been self-funding the project. However, thanks to the generosity of the Rothschild Foundation, we have recently secured funding for the next three years.
Commenting on the projects, Chris Keating, CEO, said: “As an organisation, our mission is to support everyone in our society to become safely and sustainably housed and live as independently as possible. This mission is fully inclusive, which means we work with people who are at risk of ‘falling through the gaps’ to make sure that no one is left behind. We believe that every human being is a valuable member of our society and should be treated as such. NRPF is one of the hardest situations someone in the UK can face, and yet there is incredibly sparse support available for these individuals, which further demonstrates our desire to work with these often marginalised and overlooked men and women to show them the compassion they deserve.”
Both projects are Connection Support’s first ventures into a fully fundraised provision, so it’s very significant that funding has been secured. The Teams are delighted that they can now continue to support this group of clients on their journey toward a brighter future.
For more information about the Oxfordshire project, please click here.
For more information about the Buckinghamshire project, please click here.