Just over a year ago, the country went into lockdown.
Oxford Mutual Aid formed as different groups pulled together: trade unionists, LGBTQ activists, and local community organizers, to name a few.
We knew how easy it is to fall through the cracks, and we could see Covid was going to make life a lot harder. We needed to plug the gaps in the system and get people the food, supplies, and support they needed.
It has been a hard year for everyone. Many of us have lost friends and family. We love them, and we miss them. Many of us have lost our jobs and are struggling to pay our bills.
But together, we have built something important. OMA has become one of the biggest support providers in the city and the only source of emergency food support that operates 7 days a week.
We hope you take pride in being part of OMA. This is a unique organisation, based on neighbours helping neighbours:
“Thank you so much, that food parcel you made up for me …Perfect!!! It shows you care. You’re a real lifeline for me.”
“Your gift of hot meals at a time of loneliness and desperation has cheered me up so much. Because it isn’t just the food: the love and kindness that comes with it are helping me so much.”
“You are life savers both mentally and physically. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
There are challenges coming. With the furlough scheme coming to an end, life is going to get harder for a lot of families.
First though, we wanted to share what we’ve accomplished this year:
Together, we have been able to respond to increasing requests for help. Right now, over 1,300 people across Oxford are getting support every week, including 540 children.
- Over 250 households every week receive regular food parcels and other essentials supplies including baby products (nappies, formula, wipes), toiletries and cleaning products
- Several hundred cooked meals are delivered to over 150 households a week.
- Over 250 emergency food parcels every month, to families who simply have no food, referred to us by GPs, social workers or the Council.
But there are still more people in need of support. Right now, we have a waiting list of over 100 households in need of regular food support.
In addition, OMA is the only source of emergency food support that operates 7 days a week in Oxford city and county. This week, we will have fulfilled close to 100 on the day requests for emergency food support.
Nearly one fifth of these requests came from statutory bodies or other charities and organisations. This will quickly become unsustainable without more funds for delivery and distribution as well as for food supply. We are working very hard to maintain this essential service.
To make sure we can maintain a reliable service to people, we are now paying two coordinators, on the Oxford Living Wage, and have costs of hiring a hall and van hire, to collect and store donations of food and supplies when they are offered.
Three things I need to ask of you, if you can please help.
1. Please consider making a regular, monthly donation.
Monthly donations are really important for us. They let us know how much money we can expect to come in next month and the month after – relying on one-off donations makes it very hard for us to plan in advance.
It takes less than 30 seconds to set up a monthly donation of £5, and you can do it here.
Right now, a shortage of driving volunteers is the main reason we can’t reach those 100 households on our waiting list. If you can spare a few hours, whether regularly or on call, please get in touch. You can sign up here.
3. Spread the word.
Please spread the word about us. The more of us involved in Oxford Mutual Aid, the stronger and more effective we can be. Let people in your networks know you’re already involved, and ask them to join in this community effort too. There is strength in numbers!