For the past twelve months, a group of formerly homeless Emmaus Oxford companions has volunteered every Thursday to offer help to those currently sleeping rough. Each week, the team hands out hot food and useful supplies and we’re now calling on local people to help by donating camping equipment, warm clothing and other essentials.
Every Thursday between 5.30pm and 7.30pm, rough sleepers are offered free food, supplies and advice from a special stall set up by the volunteers in front of our Emmaus building at 171 Oxford Road.
The group includes Gary Putt (56) who was homeless for six months before Emmaus gave him a place to live and the support he needed. Gary is heavily involved with organising the weekly rough sleeper support.
Gary said: “I used to work in furniture restoration, but when I lost my job it wasn’t long before I also lost my home. With nowhere to go, I ended up living in my car for months. Thanks to the support of Emmaus, I’ve now landed on my feet. I don’t want to consider where I’d be today without Emmaus. For me, helping rough sleepers in this way is paying forward the kindness I’ve received. I know how it feels to be without a home; if we can help those who are sleeping rough, even a little bit, then it’s a job well done.
“Every Thursday we spend hours preparing.”
“We cook a huge meal and try to vary it each week: quality, comforting food like shepherd’s pie or pasta bake. Offering a hot meal is a very important part and we encourage people to stay and eat together, taking time to listen and offer support. We gather supplies to hand out too, filling boxes with warm clothing, underwear, waterproof shoes, camping equipment and sanitary supplies for women.
“One of us always cycles round the area to help spread the word to anyone we see sleeping on the streets. It started off with one or two people turning up each time, but sadly there are so many people in Oxford without a home and so the need is greater than ever. We’re often meeting people at their lowest point, so we talk to them and find out what they need, and signpost other sources of support too.”
Anyone wishing to help Emmaus Oxford’s weekly rough sleeper support can donate items including winter sleeping bags, roll mats, waterproof footwear, men’s and women’s socks, men’s underwear, toothbrushes, toothpaste and small packs of baby wipes. Supplies can be dropped off at the Emmaus store at 242 Barns Road, Cowley, Oxford, which is open Monday – Saturday 9.30am – 5pm and Sunday 10am – 4pm.
Find out more about the work of Emmaus Oxford or call us on 01865 763698.