The City Conversation on Rough Sleeping began with an event in November 2017 that brought together over 100 stakeholders to form a shared approach to combating homelessness. Now a steering group and project manager are taking the initiative forward.
The first City Conversation event took place in Oxford Town Hall late last year, and convened 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. It was the largest conversation of its kind to take place in Oxford.
The aim of the conversation was to start to develop a common understanding of what causes rough sleeping and street homelessness in Oxford – and find the means to tackle the issue. Attendees at the event committed to a joint flagship vision: “To ensure that nobody has to sleep rough on the streets of Oxford.”
Since the event, an interim steering group has been formed, and Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) was invited to join the group and assist with the convening process.
Last year’s High Sheriff of Oxfordshire Jane Cranston has become the group’s independent Chair. Jane is working hard to ensure that all stakeholders have a voice, that everyone pulls in a common direction, and that shared projects are focused on the needs of homeless people.
The steering group’s first objective has been to take stock of the existing provision for homeless people in Oxford, and bring in a wide range of views about what works and what doesn’t. Around 30 local and national homelessness charities and community organisations were represented at the first conversation event, plus local councils, business, police and religious groups – all of which have their own approaches to tackling homelessness. There is a huge task to find out where services overlap and where they are divergent or contradictory; and to uncover where true collaboration is happening, and conversely where some of the stakeholders may be in conflict with one another.
With independence in mind, a temporary role was created under OCF’s umbrella for a dedicated Project Manager responsible for assessing the current provision, coordinating the various partners, and for making recommendations for more collaborative working in the future. OCF received funding from Oxford City Council for the role, and Yvonne Pinner has been appointed to the OCF staff team.
Yvonne brings strong experience to the role, with a career spanning sales, marketing and project management within Peugeot and as a school governor. She is looking forward to meeting and engaging as many people as possible.
If you would like to be included in the City Conversation, please contact Yvonne at firstname.lastname@example.org.