Dear friends of OMA,
This update is a little more extensive than our previous ones, so we can tell you about our collective efforts over the past year.
As the cost-of-living crisis grows, we are working hard to support everyone in our community. Food and energy prices are soaring, and a lot of us are struggling. Significantly, prices are rising faster for low income households – the costs of essentials are skyrocketing, and low-income families typically spend a greater proportion on these items.
The Trussell Trust recently released some startling figures stating that 1.3 million people received food parcels between April and September this year. Notably, this figure does not include data from Independent organisations such as Oxford Mutual Aid. According to the Independent Food Aid Network’s most recent data, 91 percent of food banks have seen a rise in demand since July this year.
At OMA, our experience reflects these rising figures. Many people are approaching us for the first time. Many have jobs yet still cannot afford to feed their families. And the majority need ongoing support. It has been an incredibly challenging time for so many of us.
How You Can Help
Sometimes things like this can make us feel despair, make us feel powerless but we are not. There is power in a collective and we can make change happen.
- REACH OUT:If you are struggling, don’t keep it to yourself. Reach out for support. You are not alone and everyone deserves kindness, care and compassion. If you or anyone you know could do with some mutual aid, reach out via firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 07310160595.
- SPREAD AWARENESS:let your friends, family and colleagues know about food injustice. Ask them to spread the word to others too. Food poverty is not an isolated or individualised problem – it is a structural one. You can share OMA’s content on social media via our twitter, instagram or facebook.
- VOLUNTEER OR PARTICIPATE: with a local community group. Systemic locality-based responses can and do make a qualitative difference to our lives. We firmly believe that those experiencing poverty and injustice are best placed to recognise its solutions. If you’re interested in participating with OMA, please email email@example.com or click here.
- CONTRIBUTE / DONATE: if you have the means, you can share your resources with others by making a financial contribution or by donating items we regularly request via weekly whatsapp updates and on our website.
At the same time, OMA is undergoing a transition. As most of you will know, OMA emerged during the first COVID lockdown as a response to the crisis. It has become clear that the OMA community is providing support that will be needed long-term. This means we are in the process of transitioning from operating in crisis-mode to becoming a sustainable, robust organisation.
What We’re Doing Now
In November 2022 we provided
- Regular (i.e weekly) food parcel, essential supplies and baby support to over 700 people. We phone all of these households every week to tailor their parcel to their needs. This amounted to 848 Parcels last month.
- OMA also provides emergency support in the form of food parcels, essential supplies and baby support. These are for people in crisis and urgent need. We provided 290 parcels to over 900 unique beneficiaries. Although many individuals self-refer to OMA, a significant number of requests are placed by statutory bodies and third party organisations such as GPs, social workers, schools, nurseries, City and County Councils, and charities such as Homeless Oxfordshire, Refugee Resource, and Asylum Welcome, to name just a few.
- Additional support and surplus redistribution to many local community groups and larders including Oxfordshire Asian Women’s Voice, Syrian Sisters, and African Families in the UK
- Over 1300 Kitchen Collective meals to hundreds of households across Oxfordshire
- This amounts to over 2100 unique beneficiaries overall
Over the past year, OMA has
- Distributed approximately 20,000 food, essential supplies and baby support parcels, and over 18,000 Kitchen Collective Meals
- Run various programmes of celebration and support during various religious and / or cultural events and festivals, including our Christmas and Ramadan Hampers
- Worked with over 500 volunteers to deliver our programmes of support
- Partnered with multiple local community groups, charities and charities to build local resilience against food poverty and injustice
With your help, we are providing personally tailored regular and emergency support to a large number of people around Oxford. As always, this support includes both fresh and long-life food, cooked meals prepared through our Kitchen Collective programme, baby-care items, toiletries and cleaning products. We avoid a ‘one size fits all’ parcel policy. By checking in weekly with recipients via our Delivery Coordination team, we are able to tailor their parcel to their needs as well as their preferences. We work hard to not only accommodate dietary restrictions but also to ensure that different levels of cooking skills and / or facilities available are taken into account. Adequate healthy food is essential to physical and mental wellbeing. Even short periods of deprivation can have serious long-term consequences. That’s why the support that OMA provides during this winter is more critical than ever.
We are also proud to partner and work in collaboration with many fantastic organisations across the city, for example the OX4 Food Crew and the Porch. We strive to build local resilience through these collaborative efforts, and to create links with local organisations and statutory agencies, acting as a pathway toward more targeted and well-rounded support.
While food and other essential supplies are the bedrock of operations, we also believe that the many at-risk individuals and families should not have to face additional hardship during the holidays because of the financial strain it places on them, or because they are marginalised or excluded members of the community.
Over Christmas, we want to ensure that those in receipt of support receive more than just the ‘essentials’ and that we are protecting both the emotional and mental wellbeing of our community through the provision of gifts and small tokens of kindness this Christmas. Everyone deserves to not only have basic provisions, but to feel loved, listened to and cared for by those around them.
Showing solidarity is not just about working hard together to ensure that everyone has access to the things they need to subsist, but also about spreading joy, making people feel equal and valued, and creating a sense of community. We know from feedback in previous years just how important this work is to people.
We have an amazing collection of schools, businesses, streets, villages and more offering to help us gather donations for Christmas. If you would like to know more or contribute to this initiative, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
The past year’s income has come from monthly donations (34%), from one-off donations (30%), and from grants (36%). We are grateful that the monthly donations continue to provide us with a reliable and stable income as we plan for the future. Our aim is still to increase the amount of pledged donations we receive, but we understand that many people in the community are unable to commit to donating a regular amount right now.
Our past year’s expenses are distributed between several main categories, among them:
Staffing, rent & other fixed costs (which includes a monthly fee for food), transport costs, parcel supplies (such as food, household items, and baby items), insurance, maintenance and expenses for the hall, and projects (Christmas, Ramadan, Eid).
There are some changes to our budget allocation that have happened recently. This is due in large part to the fact that our energy costs have almost doubled. Consequently, we have had to make significant cuts to other programmes of spending in order to meet this shortfall. This has already had quite a substantial impact on the items we can provide in our parcels – on baby products, toiletries (including toilet roll and sanitary items) and cleaning products in particular. While we continue to try to source these items elsewhere, without more regular donations, we will have to continue to operate a reduced service.
As we close off this update, we wanted to provide some of the wonderful feedback we have received to highlight just how much your contributions make a difference to people’s lives:
“Sometimes when I get the parcel, I sit down and cry. I’m grateful for what you do. Before I got my regular parcel I was just eating one piece of cheese on toast each day. My doctor told me I need to eat more but I said how can I? I can’t afford it. I use everything you send me and am so grateful for whatever you can send. It’s literally saved my life.”
OMA Parcel Recipient
“Oxford Mutual Aid makes me feel like I am living instead of just existing.”
OMA Parcel Recipient
If you have any other questions or would like more information on the work of OMA, please don’t hesitate to get in touch by reaching out to email@example.com for general enquiries or to firstname.lastname@example.org for finance related queries. Thank you so much for reading this update!