The City Conversation looks to tackle homelessness

The City Conversation, organised by Oxford City Council, brought together 100 stakeholders to discuss rough sleeping and homelessness in Oxford.

Representatives from Oxfordshire’s homelessness organisations, health and mental health providers, faith groups, public bodies, local councillors, and people with lived experience of rough sleeping all attended the conversation.

It was the largest conversation of its kind to take place in Oxford.

The aim of the conversation was to start to find a common understanding of what causes rough sleeping and street homelessness in Oxford - and find the means to tackle the issue.

The objectives have not yet been agreed, but some possible objectives could include: maximising community buy-in; working together; learning from Manchester and getting them to show Oxford what they have done; working in the open, not concealing information in Oxford’s own interest; making sure the big players are involved, including businesses, universities and individual colleges; and making it a general agreement that rough sleeping should not happen and that it can be avoided.

Proposed principles for anyone who is concerned about the problem and wants to help address this include: People are safer off the streets - efforts should be focused on helping individuals to access support and accommodation away from the streets; Rough sleepers need shelter and support - responses need to involve housing and appropriate support; Everyone can help - everyone should work together to build on strengths; We are better together - all parties should work together in a coordinated way to deliver the vision; Lived experience matters - homeless people need to be part of and help form the solution; and Small change should deliver big change - people should donate money to homelessness organisations rather than give it directly to individuals.

The conversation will be overseen by a small, time-limited steering group of people from the groups represented, including at least one person with lived experience. This will be convened by a third party organisation which can take the City Conversation forward and can command the confidence of the diverse community of interest in this issue, such as the Oxfordshire Community Foundation.

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