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News December 2023

We want to wish you all a wonderful festive season and thank you for all your continued support throughout the year. The hall has been busy with volunteers, donations and offers of help and we continue to be heartened by the strength and support of our community during a time which is challenging for everyone financially. 

We are happy to announce that our emergency parcel service is back open and running and we have delivered over 660 regular parcels in November and around 200 emergency packages also this month. We also have a number of new staff editions, adding to our dedicated coordinator and management team.

Whilst understanding that everyone is facing their own challenges, we want to thank everyone who has donated time, funds, food and gifts. Your support really is the backbone of O.M.A and we are so thankful for the amazing community we have here in Oxford. 

CHANGE HOW YOU DONATE

HELP O.M.A. SAVE MONEY by changing how you donate. Shift your donation away from Open Collective, which charges extra fees. Instead, donate directly via the website so that every penny goes to vital support. O.M.A is facing unprecedented financial hardship so we have to save money wherever we can. See below for an urgent appeal to help O.M.A. raise funds to continue our operations.

CLICK HERE TO DONATE DIRECTLY

CHRISTMAS AT OMA

 With Christmas around the corner, we know that many families are really struggling with the cost of living. Throughout Oxford, food insecurity is at an all-time high and Christmas can often put extra pressure on people to provide for both themselves and their families. As the weather gets colder, this is compounded by increases to heating and energy bills, which can really effect peoples physical and mental health in conjunction with economic difficulty. For our 2023 Christmas Appeal, we are asking everyone to help by donating food, gifts or funds to help us reach as many people as possible. Ideally, we would like to reach over 700 people with food and gifts this festive season, but none of this is possible without the support of kind individuals and businesses.

 Are you a local parish council, school/college or local business setting up a winter fundraiser this year? If so, please consider fundraising for us at OMA, in the knowledge it will help us strengthen and maintain our operations to support vulnerable families across the festive season. We are here to offer support to anyone wanting to fundraise for us and can provide leaflets and help with communications for your event.

 For an informal chat about opportunities please email christmas@oxfordmutualaid.org

Facing the holiday season without access to food can be hard enough, but providing for your family during this time can add extra pressure on families to source gifts. It is also a time of year that really highlights personal hardship, which in itself can worsen both physical and mental health. O.M.A aims to support as many people as we can this year, offering personalised packages and gifts to alleviate the burden on those struggling, as well as provide the little luxuries which we all need at times. This year we have really struggled to source donations for gifts. Be it a winter hat, soaps and body-care, chocolates or sweets, anything you or your community can provide will go directly to individuals in need. If you can, set up a collection box in your local area and bring directly to our hall on Cowley Road. 

HALL UPDATE

 As the temperatures are dropping we’ve seen great dedication from the OMA community as everyone has come together to keep the deliveries coming in and parcels going out. Assisted by some new fingerless gloves, new faces and lots of cups of tea we’re managing to keep going! We’ve managed to host lots of great events in the hall, including a visit from Reading University and a student takeover evening. Our stocks have been up and down over the past couple of months, and we have unfortunately been low on dairy fridge food and fruit and veg for a while. At the moment we are low on pasta and potatoes, some household essentials we would love to be promising, so if you have any leads on donated food please get in touch.The hall remains open 9am-7pm Mon-Fri, and 9am-5pm on Sundays – do pop in with any donations, to volunteer your time and help, or just to say hi and get to know more about us. 

VOLUNTEERING

If you’re on the lookout for more ways to help in the hall, we’re keen for more amazing volunteers to step up as hall leads, and we urgently need more drivers to deliver emergency parcels now we are delivering emergency parcels again.

  O.M.A are always looking for enthusiastic volunteers to support in general operations, fundraising and communications. We offer unique and tailored volunteering opportunities, which meet your wants and needs in terms of professional experience. As a community driven and volunteer led organisation, we aim to continuously support and encourage volunteers into positions of leadership, taking whatever experience you are looking for and translating this into opportunities for you to maximise your professional CVs and personal achievement goals.

For more information visit https://oxfordmutualaid.org/volunteer/ and/or email us at volunteering@oxfordmutualaid.org

URGENT APPEAL

Oxford Mutual Aid is facing an unprecedented time of financial difficulty, as our reserves are dipping dangerously low and we are at risk of having to drastically change our operations. This may mean we have to revise our costs, people we support and ability to respond to increasing demand for food support in Oxford. Whilst recognising that everyone is struggling with the cost of living, we are asking our community for support, especially across the holiday season. Ultimately we need to secure funds to meet our core costs and which will enable us to maintain our current level of operations. This Christmas we want to raise £15,000 and any contribution, small or large, will support us to reach this goal. Pledges of £10-£20 a month will also support us more long-term. We completely understand that not everyone is in a position to support us in this way and even spreading the word is an amazing contribution in itself. Whatever your capacity, we appreciate help in all forms during this time and offer thanks for all your amazing work over the last year. 

OMA are proud to be a part of the OX4 Food Crew and are currently supporting with the 2023/2024 Winter Appeal. The OX4 Food Crew is a partnership of 9 grassroots organisations in Oxford’s OX4 postcode area, responding to the growing crisis of food insecurity in our neighbourhoods. This appeal will raise funds for all partners within the OX4 Food Crew; supporting a wider network of food distribution organisations to reach as many communities as possible across the OX4 area. The aim of this appeal is to raise funds which can be distributed across the partner organisations and which will distribute donations fairly across the catchment. With winter affecting many charities and non-profits, as well as the communities they serve, this is a great opportunity to get involved with local fundraising and contribute to a joint collective of food distribution organisations in your area. For more information and to donate see https://www.ox4foodcrew.co.uk/winterappeal

AUTUMN STATEMENT

 In response to the government’s Autumn Statement, O.M.A are concerned about the language and tone of policies related to benefit claimants and people with mental health challenges and disabilities. Whilst we support helping people find and secure employment if they are able, we are concerned that the language used throughout the statement is likely to result in the demonization of people with disabilities. We are also concerned about the proposed change in assessment for people who have been previously deemed unfit for work, which may restrict access to benefits for seriously ill claimants. In particular, this will enforce a culture of hostility to those living with serious illness and disability, as well as potentially cutting off funds for anyone who does not comply with the revised legislation around benefits. At O.M.A we consistently witness the effects of food insecurity and poverty in our local area and which is the result of multiple and complex factors. As such, we staunchly resist this change in approach, in the belief that it will further drive the demonization, economic challenges and food insecurity of people with complex and diverse health related issues, who may now find it more difficult to access support.

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