Weekly news 12.12.22

It’s Nearly Christmas!

We can’t quite believe it – we’re almost ready to start packing hampers. This has been months in the planning and has only been possible because of all of the amazing people who have worked so hard to spread the word about our efforts!

We have had so many incredible donations from so many! Whether it is individuals or groups, schools, offices, churches or colleges – you’ve all come together to share with your community!  None of this would be possible without YOU!

We still have items that we need more of to make sure everyone is at least given a token this Christmas

1. Warm clothing such as hats, scarves, socks and gloves

This is the one we really really need lots more of! Many of the families / people we support are struggling to heat their homes or are precariously housed / experiencing homelessness. It is essential they keep warm any way they can so this would be a very welcome gift this Christmas 

2. Large sharing family chocolates

Who doesn’t like a good treat especially at Christmas to share with their friends, families and loved ones. 

And speaking of hampers….

Volunteer December 16th-23rd and 26th-30th to help with Christmas hampers

Could you help with our Christmas hamper deliveries?

Over the last few weeks we have had a challenging time sourcing enough delivery drivers and bikers to deliver our parcels and we need even more over the busy Christmas period.

Not only is demand for emergency support on the rise but we will have other additional festive deliveries to do.

Is this something you think you could help with?

Collection is at the Richard Benson Hall and we can be flexible on timing 

If you’re new to OMA, pease email with the subject line ‘Hamper Deliveries’

If you’re already volunteering with us, please just add yourself to the Rota

We also need hall volunteers

As we will be packing a lot more parcels than usual at the Hall so we need a lot more hands on deck. If you have any time over Christmas to help us out. If you’re new to OMA you can sign up here: 

If you’re already volunteering with us, please just add yourself to the Rota 

We know many of you can’t help out regularly with work and other commitments but we’d love some help over the holidays if you can. Even an hour of your time can make a huge difference to someone else. We will have 60 parcels per day

OMA is only possible because of our wonderful volunteers. We are proudly a volunteer driven organisation based on solidarity and mutual support


Keeping warm at the hall

We hope you’re all wrapping up well and keeping  warm as temperatures plummet. We want to say a HUGE THANK YOU to all of our incredible volunteers especially those that spend long hours at the hall packing parcels in absolutely freezing temperatures.

They come week in and week out to ensure that people in crisis are shown solidarity, that they are treated with care and kindness and know that they are not alone.

As our bills are sky high it is difficult for us to heat our hall making conditions quite uncomfortable.

We will need to provide some heat to volunteers as the temperatures drop even further but we are worried about the cost. 

We’ve already had to make significant budget cuts elsewhere to manage our rising bills and we really don’t want to reduce what we are providing even further.

You can help us by donating here: 

Solidarity with striking workers

With the news that food bank use is soaring amongst nurses and other vital yet low paid sectors, we wanted to show our support to those workers who are desperately struggling to make ends meet. 

Many of the people who contact us are working and yet still they can’t put food on the table. This is the devastating reality of more and more people.

At OMA, like many food banks around the country, we are struggling to keep pace with the scale of rising demand and believe that food bank use is not a long term solution to food poverty

Read more here

Major food supply shortages

Sadly, our food supply levels have been at some of the lowest they have been due to the fact that many of our suppliers can supply less and less – there is simply less food in the system.

Coupled with the fact that people are having a harder time that ever, we can not keep pace with demand. This week alone we delivered 94 emergency food parcels to nearly 300 people and regular (weekly) food support to hundreds more.

We simply do not have enough food to provide to everyone who needs it.* If things continue this way, there will be more and more people with shrinking parcels or none at all. 

That is why we are asking you to help us and your community. We really are at critical levels of supply and soon we won’t be able to provide important essentials such as fresh fruit and veg and / or protein. 

We urgently need:

1. Fresh veg and fruit

2. Tinned tomatoes

3. Tinned meat

4.Sanitary pads


I’m very pleased with whatever you send to me, especially grateful for last Sundays parcel, which included a lovely flowering pot plant, and a cake! Sunday was my 90th Birthday!! Thank you so much.

A big thank you so much for the food parcel, cooked the chicken last night with the yams and carrots, it was lovely, again we thank you, all was good as usual.  Bless you and have a good week.


Weekly news 05.12.22

We hope you are all keeping well and warm this December. We know it can be an especially tough month for some of us so we hope that you are taking care and reaching out for support when you need it. 

We’ve had so many wonderful conversations with so many of you – at the hall packing parcels, over the phone, at the door and we are so glad and proud to be part of this wonderful community.

Please don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you need it. You are not alone.

Click here for support 

Festive activities

We are well and truly in the festive season here at OMA and we’re having such a jolly time! Thank you SO much to everyone who has donated so far! We have received lots of wonderful goodies that we will pack in hampers. However with more and more people coming forward for support every day we still require donations. Showing solidarity is about so much more than meeting basic needs. It’s about the spreading of collective joy, showing kindness and caring for  one another. Beyond being well-fed and warm, we all deserve to feel seen and supported.

If you’d like to support our Christmas efforts, there are a number of ways you can do so

  1. Donate gifts, goodies and Christmas cheer! We are seeking the following items
  • Christmas Chocolates / Luxury Food Items
  • Socks / Scarves / Hats
  • Board Games
  • Colouring Books / Pencils / Markers
  • Children’s Toys (0-5) 
  • Children’s Toys (5-12)
  • Toiletries (Gender neutral if possible) 

We are open 10 – 6 every day at the Richard Benson Hall 276 Cowley Road 

  1. Donate Funds open collective platform or our bank account! If you’d like our details please email 
  1. Volunteer! We’re always looking for more volunteers, especially around our busiest period. To sign up, please do so here: We have plenty of roles available: from packing and / or delivering food parcels and Christmas hampers, to making calls to our contacts to doing graphics and social media and lots lots more – There is a place for everyone at OMA
  1. Organise a Christmas Collection at your school, college, street, church or workplace. Lots of you have already set these up – thank you SO much! They are wonderful! and we are so grateful! There is still time to organise something! If you’re interested, please e-mail and we can provide you will any items you might need 
  1. Donate Items on the OMA Reverse Advent Calendar. Thanks  to our brilliant volunteer Lucy you created our very own reverse advent calendar of things we regularly need. For every day in December we’re asking you to consider donating this highly desired item!


Tinned Vegetables

Tinned fruit

Tinned tomatoes



Cow and Gate Stage 1 

Fresh fruit and veg needed

One of our main suppliers were not able to help us out last week, which means we are very short on fresh fruit and veg. 

Without more supplies some parcels will not have any and we may need to turn people away.

If you have any capacity to donate, please bring or send donations of fruit and veg to 276 Cowley Road, OX4 1UR ❤️ 

Everything is welcome no matter how small, and all helps to ensure our parcels are nutritionally balanced and healthy!

Brand the bus – vote for OMA

OMA is in with the chance of winning a prize worth £50,000 in advertising! You can read more about our entry (Number 73!) here:

Not only would this be a brilliant opportunity to raise awareness of the work we do to generate more support / donations but also to also to let more people know that support is available and that OMA is there to help if they are struggling

Please consider voting for us

East Oxford Farmers’ Market

Thank you so much to the wonderful East Oxford Farmers Market who hosted us this Saturday! It was great seeing so many of you there and talking to you at our stall

Big shout out to the wonderful Fran and Sophie who were there flying the flag for OMA. 

New Donation Station: Co-op, Littlemore Road

Thank you very much to the Co-op Littlemore Road store who have agreed to be a donation point for OMA. You can buy items in store to donate to OMA! 

Choose OMA to be your local cause

Are you a Co-op Member? If so, there are additional ways you can support OMA via the Local Community Fund.

When you buy selected Co-op products and services, 2p for every £1 spent goes into your membership account. The same amount also goes towards like-minded organisations and local causes.

You can select a local cause you would like to support – OMA is one of the nominated causes this year.

Here is our profile: 

And you can choose to nominate us here: 


We currently are not open for emergency parcels for two days a week, namely Wednesday and Saturday. 

From next week this will be changing to Tuesday and Saturday

This will mean that if requesting after 4pm on Monday this may not be responded to until Wednesday morning. 

We will be open on Wednesdays from 10am – 4pm for any emergency support requests.


This week delivered over 84 Emergency Food Parcels to nearly 300 people as well as regular food parcels to nearly 1000 people via our weekly food parcels and kitchen collective meals 

Here is some feedback we received this week.

Hi I received a food parcel today and from the bottom of my heart I really cannot thank you enough for what you guys do, when I opened my door my heart felt so full and the relief that filled my body was overwhelming. I really appreciate absolutely everything I was given.

All of you in your team have given me so much during this stressful time. I can’t tell you how much I appreciate it


OMA is taking a break

OMA has been operating 7 days a week, 365 days a year since we opened our doors in March 2020. We have never once closed, not even for holidays, storms, or snow! This is an incredible community we have built together. In order to be sustainable, we have decided to pause our operations for one week. We will be pausing the week of Monday, March 7th – Sunday, March 13th but will be back as normal on Monday, March 14th.

We will reflect, reset and regroup. It was not an easy decision that we came to, but one that we collectively feel is necessary as we move forward to meet the challenges ahead.

We have already contacted everyone we support, and we also have provided information on alternatives for that week (leaflet pictured below). Everyone who is a part of OMA works incredibly hard and in order to continue at the incredibly high level we’re running at, we need a moment to breathe.

We’re looking forward to recuperating, resting and reflecting after a busy but wonderful two years.


The Crisis Isn’t Over

OMA is still working hard to meet a high level of need, and we need your help. Read on for an update on our recent activities, and how you can support us.

We are currently receiving requests for and delivering over 80 Emergency Food Parcels a Week 

Many of these are direct referrals from Oxford City Council and St Mungo’s. These are people who really do need help, and we don’t want to turn them away.

That means we really need your helpIf you’re not, please consider making a regular donation to OMA.

£20 a month is enough to supply a family in need for a month.

If you’re already a monthly donor – thank you! – or if you can’t afford to become one, please help us spread the word.

The Good News and the Bad News

It looks like Covid is under control for the moment. The bad news is that its economic effects on the most vulnerable people are getting worse. 

Many relief efforts are being scaled back. That means that people who are still in need have fewer places to go. 

While we cannot take on any more families for regular support, we remain the only emergency food service operational 7 days a week.

Unfortunately, that means we are receiving a lot of new requests, often from local government or charities. 

We do not receive additional funds to help cover emergency requests. On top of our existing commitments the extra work and expense is putting us under a real strain. 

What Are We Doing?

As of today we are providing: 

  • 323 emergency food parcels a month, going to 619 adults, 278 children, 65 babies.
  • Regular food and supply parcels to 311 households, going to 469 adults, 290 children, and 54 babies.
  • 650 Kitchen Collective meals a week to over 200 households. 

How Did We Spend Donations?

Spending was £9,246.24 in February, and £10,118.0 in March. 

For reference, the term Hall is used to include all the fridges, label makers, and other items needed to safely store and distribute food.


As we said in our last update, our long-term strategy is to increase monthly pledged donations. The added strain of emergency parcels makes that more urgent, but we can get there with your help.

That said, we are faced with a difficult choice. We anticipated extra costs from staffing, but the influx of emergency parcels makes it hard to set budgets.

Basically, we need to spend more, make more parcels, and move more parcels across the city at short notice, on top of our existing operation. 

We do not want to downsize our operation, but we also need to be sustainable. We will need to see how much we can increase pledged donations over May and then assess what sort of budget we can commit to.

How Can You Help?

Our focus right now is simple – we need to get enough pledged donations to let us keep doing what we’re doing.

Thank you to all of you who are already monthly donors. If you’re not, please consider making a regular donation.

£20 a month is enough to supply a family in need for a month.
If you’re already a monthly donor, or if you can’t afford to become one right now, you can still help by spreading the word. 

It would really help us out if you could send this blog post to 3 people you know in Oxford who care about supporting the community. 


One Year On

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.  

2. Volunteer!
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!


We’re still here

Although restrictions may have been lifted for some today, many people still face significant hardship. We encourage everyone to remain vigilant, to practice social distancing and to wear a mask. If you do not have a mask, join our mask making scheme and make some for yourself, your family and your community. 

Covid-19 is a deadly virus and remains so. While its instance in our communities may have reduced, it has not disappeared. The threat of a second wave is very real. 

Oxford Mutual Aid is still here to support you. We don’t plan on going anywhere. Whether you want to ask for support, to volunteer with us, or both, we are here.

We do not means-test. You do not have to meet certain criteria to qualify to get support from the OMA community. Anyone can ask for help, no matter who you are. If you say you could use help, we will believe you, and we will never pass on your details to anyone else without your permission. Getting support from us will have no effect on your residential status in the UK, or your eligibility for state aid such as benefits.

The past few months have presented a significant challenge for everyone. However, many challenges still lie ahead. Food poverty, inequality and injustice existed before the lockdown.  They were exposed during it, and only threaten to get worse in its aftermath.  

The way in which people came together to support one another has been truly astounding. It has been a humbling experience to watch people working together to save lives. The pandemic opened up possibilities for cooperation, adaptation and transformation like never before. There is no reason that we should stop supporting one another. 

The economic implications of the pandemic are devastating. We already know that some companies and institutions will be making redundancies at the end of the furlough scheme. Many people already find themselves unemployed. We can provide support with food and other essential items to provide relief, and can provide signposting for those applying for Universal Credit.

Even for people who remain employed, the way workplaces operate is changing. Now, more than ever, it’s important to join a trade union to make sure that things are fair for yourself and your colleagues. Use this tool to find out which union is right for you.

So far, the ban on evictions is still in place, and there is still funding for emergency accommodation, but these measures have only been extended until August. If you are worried about accommodation, we can help by signposting resources and organisations. As a first point of call for renters, we always suggest joining a tenants’ union, such as Acorn or Oxford Tenants’ Union. 

We can:

  • provide food support, including cooked meals
  • provide other essential items including baby products, toiletries, and masks 
  • signpost you to other services over the phone or via email
  • refer you to a food bank or larder with your permission

You could:

  • sign up through this form to be in your local WhatsApp group to connect with neighbours seeking help
  • sign up through this form to volunteer remotely, helping with admin and coordination for a few hours per week or more
  • partner with us if you run a business, organisation or community group
  • follow us on social media and join our community facebook group to keep up with what we’re doing and see callouts for help

We are a grassroots community organisation and action network. We believe that showing solidarity with others as well the fair redistribution of resources are principles that should define society. Together, we can make the choice to live that way. At Oxford Mutual Aid, we are going to keep supporting one another to make a fairer, more just and equitable world possible.