Extra funding to support rough sleeping in Oxford

Rough sleepers in Oxford will be able to access more support for problems with drug and alcohol use thanks to a government grant awarded to Oxfordshire County Council.

The grant will allow the council to provide more support for problematic drug and alcohol use to rough sleepers in Oxford. This will be provided through Turning Point and arranged in partnership with Oxford City Council and the NHS.

Councillor Lawrie Stratford, Oxfordshire County Council’s Lead Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We’re delighted to be in receipt of this grant, which will be used to support people who experience homelessness and rough sleeping and are affected by either drug or alcohol use or both. The support will be offered to those who were provided with emergency accommodation during the pandemic. 

“The funding was allocated across 43 identified priority areas in England, with Oxford City being one of them and receiving £584k initially. Additional funding will be available in subsequent years. It will be used to offer specialist support for intensive substance misuse and to facilitate access to wider services through wraparound care within Oxford City. We will be working closely in partnership with the city council and our community provider, Turning Point, on this.”

Councillor Mike Rowley, Oxford City Council Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing and Housing the Homeless, said: “It takes more than a roof to end homelessness and the right support is essential to help people leave the experience of rough sleeping behind for good. Research published last month showed that 60 per cent of people experiencing rough sleeping have a substance misuse need and this funding will be vital in meeting that need and helping people access other support services.

“We’re working closely with Oxfordshire County Council, our neighbouring districts, the NHS and other partners to develop a system wide approach to tackling homelessness across Oxfordshire. Better support to address substance misuse needs will be a key part of this new approach.”

Andy Symons, Turning Point’s Senior Operations Manager, said: “This is great news for rough sleepers in Oxford that brings fresh hope to some of the most vulnerable people within our community. The funding will enable Turning Point to significantly increase the support we provide to homeless people whose lives are often blighted by drugs and alcohol – taking treatment out and into the homeless community across the city.”

“Turning Point is committed to stopping the all too frequent early deaths of homeless people from drugs and alcohol in Oxford. We will enhance our harm reduction activities and strive to provide lasting solutions with dedicated support packages that follow each rough sleeper from a life on the streets, through into temporary accommodation and onto independent living back into the community.”

The bid for funding was pulled together by public health, in partnership with colleagues in the city council, and district councils and the NHS were also involved in the discussions. The funding will enable access and engagement with drug and alcohol treatment and will support integrated care by enabling access to other services through wraparound care.