As you may know, OMA has continued to wear face masks when working in person at the Hall. As an organisation whose fundamental infrastructure was built up during the height of the pandemic, the protection of our community’s health and the accessibility of our working space has always been and remains a priority.
Over the past year or so, the question of whether to continue to wear masks at the Hall has been the subject of a lot of discussion, with strong feelings on both sides! Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to voice their opinion, whether at the Hall, at a Hall meeting or via the two surveys that have taken place.
Unfortunately, it has been impossible to approach this issue via consensus-based decision making or a majority-vote system. The most recent survey that took place had a near 50-50 split between those who would like to continue wearing masks while working at the Hall, and those who would not. We would also like to acknowledge that there are structural inequalities that undermine and dismiss the wishes of those with hidden disabilities or long-term health conditions, and that these may prevent people from voicing their opinion, particularly publicly. We believe that OMA should be the kind of organisation where the power dynamics caused by structural inequalities in the wider world, and which also affect us internally, should be recognised openly and honestly. We propose that masks continue to be worn at the Hall on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays, while Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays will be days when masks are not required, but can be worn if desired. We hope that this system will enable those for whom the current mask policy is a fundamental aspect of their experience at OMA to continue to contribute, while also making space for those for whom the current mask policy is not working.
We aim to trial this new system for three months, starting from the week beginning the 8th of May. At the end of these three months, there will be an opportunity for us all to meet to discuss how the new system is working, whether any unforeseen issues have arisen and whether we would like to make any changes.
OMA stands in solidarity with all those who have been marginalised by public institutions and healthcare systems, by workplaces and by social spaces due to an unjust lack of accessibility. It is important to acknowledge all the ways in which OMA unhappily contributes to dynamics that privilege those who are able-bodied, and reaffirm our commitment to making sure not only that OMA remains accessible, but radically improves in this area.
Thank you again to everyone who has contributed to this process. It has been difficult at times but together we can make community-centered decisions that reflect what we want the world to look like!
We hope you all either enjoyed the snow or are now enjoying the absence of it! Throughout the week OMA has continued to support 199 households with regular food parcels, and also provided over 72 emergency parcels.
Solidarity with Migrants
The UK government is yet again attempting to create more boundaries that aim to discriminate and separate. The hostility of the government towards migrants is at odds with our principles of inclusion, solidarity, love and community. As a Mutual Aid group, we would like to take a stance of solidarity against any policy that inhibits our capacity for inclusion, and stand with those who give voices to the suppressed.
Please check out ways to support and get involved:
We have been supported by the Blue Cross in Burford in fortnightly donations of pet food for several months now. This kindness has transformed the support we can give to those with pets and has spread much practical help and joy to those in acute crisis. We have recently been featured through them in the Oxford Mail. Do check it out!
Sourcing for Ramadan
The wonderful Ramadan team are in full-flow and sourcing across the city and beyond for food and funds so we can give beautiful gift parcels both at the start of Ramadan and at Eid. If you have any ideas or want to see how you can help, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Here’s a donation station poster to go in any house, workplace, or street. Get collecting!
Cleaning our new storage space
OMA has wonderfully been granted access to a large storage space near the station. It needs a good cleanup so we’re looking for as much help as possible. We will be there from 3-6pm on Wednesday 15th March with Oxford Community Action who will also be helping. It will be lovely and jovial so please come down for some OMA/OCA bonding!
The place also has no electricity or water, and so if you can help out with either donation of portable floodlights or head-torches or access to water in the area, then please let us know.
If you might be around to help out, then please email email@example.com.
County Vision for Volunteering
OCVA and Community First Oxfordshire are gathering community experience of volunteering in Oxford. On Tuesday 21st of March at 11.30am there is a 45-minute informal zoom chat to discuss volunteer needs. It’s a chance to hear and share experiences and ideas with volunteers from across Oxfordshire, and is open to all volunteers and people involved in unpaid community action, activism or support.
They would like to hear how volunteers and would-be volunteers can be supported by decision-makers like councils, funding bodies, and the voluntary sector itself. How can we ensure that everyone has access to voluntary opportunities? What’s needed to empower existing volunteers to continue in community action? These discussions often focus on the needs of the organisations (and I’m sure that it’ll be a part of the zoom discussion) but the needs of volunteers as individuals are often overlooked. Lets change that!
If you have any ideas, or just think that it’s an interesting topic, then please come along.
We, along with many others, are trying to cope with the enormous shortage of fresh produce at the moment. We are looking to diversify our food sources and so if you know of any businesses, shops, allotments, or farms that may be able to help us, then please let us know or reach out yourselves to them. It’s always good to remember one of OMA’s oldest sayings: ‘If you don’t ask, you don’t get!’.
This week we continued to provide regular and emergency food and essential item support to households across the city.
Thank you – Union and Community Group Solidarity
Thanks to the Young Communist League for ongoing collections and donations.
Thanks also to CWU (Communication Workers Union) for donations last week.
OMA sends solidarity to all striking workers, especially NEU members who went on strike this week and to the UCU who voted for additional strike days this week! We donated items that could not be distributed in our parcels to Our Unions Our Power’s Strike Solidarity party for their raffle on Saturday evening.
Number of children in food poverty doubles in one year
A recent article from The Guardian outlines the striking increase in food poverty in the UK. 4 million children are now considered to be in food poverty, up 100% from last year’s figures. “According to the Food Foundation thinktank, one in five (22%) of households reported skipping meals, going hungry or not eating for a whole day in January”. With 800,000 children in poverty not eligible for free school meals, support falls on groups and organisations like OMA to help fill the gaps in families’ weekly food provision.
This increase in food poverty is a result of food price inflation, rising energy costs and stagnated wages along with negligence on the part of the current government to address these issues faced by households most at risk in the UK.
Thanks to funding from the Pye Charitable trust we have started a partnership with Donnington Doorstep. We are supporting 8 families with food parcels every 2 weeks, using Donnington Doorstep as a collection point. By partnering with Donnington Doorstep we have been able to facilitate these families in accessing our services by collecting the parcel from a safe space they are familiar with. The deliveries also enable them to access the wonderful family services Donnington Doorstep offer! If you would like to help by delivering 4 parcels weekly to Donnington Doorstep on Wednesday mornings get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Today marks another amazing week of support and solidarity at O.M.A, with a huge team effort including lots of amazing new driver and hall volunteers on board – we’re so grateful for the ongoing care, and thank you very much for your efforts!
Looking at our work since the start of the year, we have delivered over 550 emergency parcels on top over 200 weekly deliveries. The extent of the need and ongoing demand for support is staggering, but as is our collective and growing effort. As ever, O.M.A is all of us so if you do need support, or know anyone who does, please do reach out.
Part time van driver needed
We’re on the hunt again for some lovely part-time contracted van drivers to join our fantastic team. This will involve:
Delivering parcels (collection from Richard Benson Hall, 276 Cowley Road). Routes will be mapped, and 15 – 20 stops.
Collection of Food Supplies from various locations
We are looking for people with availability on Thursday during the day, but there are always ad hoc jobs that pop up throughout the week too!
You need: – A clean licence – Experience driving / delivering in vans – References for the above
If you are interested in hearing more, please e-mail email@example.com with the subject title ‘Van driving at O.M.A.’. If you’re interested in volunteering but also have experience driving a van, please fill out the form here: www.oxfordmutualaid.org/volunteering
As you may know, we’re gearing up for our efforts to support those celebrating the holy month of Ramadan – ensuring we’re providing effective support through the provision of culturally appropriate foods as well as sweets and treats. At O.M.A, we believe that it’s not just “the essentials” that we need to distribute, but items to ensure that we are respecting the dignity and autonomy and choices of all those we’re supporting.
If you are keen to help with sourcing or know anyone who can donate items (including shops, stores, schools and more!!!) then please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Let the celebrations begin!
Baby items, toiletries and tins needed
As ever, our stocks are reducing as a result of increasing food prices as well as changes in supply chains – many of which hit food support providers like O.M.A the hardest. In addition to food we provide nappies and formula milk as well as toiletries and hygiene products as these are essential and costly items. Everyone has a right to good health and care and we hope to ensure we can continue to provide these items but we need your help!
At the moment, we are particularly in need of nappies size 2 and 6, sanitary pads, black tea and tinned soup.
Feel free to order or drop off to us anytime – we’re The Richard Benson Hall, 276 Cowley Road, OX4 1UR. Thank you!
Supporting food justice in OX4
As part of our work with the OX4 Food Crew we have been working on a project to fundraise for the bulk purchase of key food items many of which are in extremely short supply. We are now 56% of the way towards our target so please continue to share and donate!
Please continue to let friends, family and networks know about food injustice – we know that food poverty is not an isolated problem but a structural one and increasing support for grassroots organisations and partnerships like the OX4 Food Crew will help communities support each other. A shout out this week also to the amazing Film Oxford who filmed a short video for us on Tuesday! We’re very excited to see the results.
We’ve been grateful to receive thoughtful feedback and are always reminded of how needed this community is.
We’ve had another busy week at OMA. We are experiencing high levels of emergency parcel requests that are increasing week to week.
Thank you so much to everyone who continues to support and participate with OMA.
Solidarity with striking workers
We stand in solidarity with striking workers this week – continuing to fight for better pay and working conditions including teachers, rail workers, university staff, civil service workers, health care workers and more. We continue to support efforts to affirm job security and pay rises in line with inflation, as the continued cost of living crisis puts increased pressures on millions across the country.
You can read more about the campaigns for working rights happening across the country here
Trialing a 6-day week
Thank you so much for supporting us for another brilliant week at O.M.A. We are beginning with a new trial of a 6-day week. This means that we will now be closed on Saturdays. This means that we will not be open for regular parcel deliveries, receipt of donations, emergency parcel requests, or collections at the Hall, and that our staff and volunteer teams will not be available to respond to queries or concerns until the following day. All our parcels have been brilliantly reorganised to ensure that all regular deliveries can continue as normal – thank you to everyone who has helped to make this possible.
As always, if you or anyone you know is in need of support, please reach out to us on any day except Tuesday and Saturday and read through our signposting leaflet with more support options across the City here.
Rainbow families at Flo’s
Join Flo’s for a friendly drop in celebrating and welcoming all families in the LGBTQ+ community.
Weekly on Mondays from 1:30 pm to 3:00 pm at the Meeting Room at Flo’s – The Place in the Park Rymers Lane OX4 3JZ
No need to book, just drop in on the day!
There will be toys, crafts and games for little ones, in a relaxed setting where you can meet other families and chat over a cup of tea.
No charge. Suggested donation of £2/£3 for room hire costs
As we’re moving to a new 6 day programme this means that we are delivering more parcels than previously each day to accommodate both emergency and regular deliveries. If you have any time during the day then please let us know – anything from 20 minutes to three hours is brilliant. We are struggling with increased numbers of requests and are concerned we will not be able to deliver emergency parcels on certain days should we not increase our driver/biker capacity.
Routes are available flexibly in terms of location, time and regularity. You can either sign up on an ad-hoc basis or for a regular shift – whatever works for you! We have routes in locations from OX1 to OX5 for both bikes and cars. If you’re interested in helping out please email us on email@example.com.
Fresh veg and fruit needed
One of our main suppliers weren’t able to help us out last week, which means we are very short on fresh fruit and veg.
Without more supplies we will not have enough food for our parcels
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!
It would also be great if you could support us with any of the following (click to order):
Mutual Aid and Grassroots Community Action on Film
As part of Future Co-ops conference, there will be a public screening of ‘From Below’, which will be followed by a Q&A and discussion session with the producer and lead researcher on the project, Dr Oli Mould.
The event is Friday 10th Feb 15.00-17.00 at the Leonardo Royal Hotel (Godstow Road, Oxford, OX2 8AL).
From Below is a documentary film showcasing mutual aid and grassroots community action that helped feed and comfort the vulnerable during the covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. The film focuses on specific towns and cities across the North and South of England and speaks to how community action can be supported in order to help people in future crises, both of the climate and of the economy. From Below is part of a broader research project, funded by the Arts & Humanities Research Council.
It has been a busy week, as always! This week we continued to support nearly 200 households with regular parcel deliveries. We also packed and delivered over 80 emergency parcels to households across the city, as well as continuing to both receive and share surplus with all our partner organisations and friends! We are now regularly receiving between 20 and 30 requests for emergency support every day that our phone lines are open.
If you find yourself struggling to meet your food needs and preferences, please do not hesitate to get in touch via call or text on 07310160595, any day except Tuesdays and Saturdays, 10am to 4pm. We will never ask you to prove your level of need, or to explain why you need support.
Here is our updated signposting information for the new year!
Social Action Fair
This week, a group of OMA members went to the Social Action Fair, a partnership event between the Oxford Hub and the Oxford SU which gathered together many Oxford-based organisations working for social and political justice. We spoke to students about OMA’s work and how to get involved, as well as linking up with other organisations working on related projects. If you are a regular volunteer and interested in representing OMA at similar events in the future, get in touch with one of the coordinators!
Check out our gorgeous new banner, at its first outing!
Upcoming webinars from the Independent Food Aid Network UK
IFAN is planning two joint webinars with Feeding Britain and the University of York as part of their joint Structural Inequalities webinar series. Their focus will be on structural inequalities, food insecurity and benefit sanctions and deductions and increasing in-work poverty. You can book your free place below:
The Campaign to Keep Campsfield Closed is a campaign against the reopening of Campsfield Immigration Detention Centre in Kidlington. We stand in solidarity with the campaign and are sharing their new change.org petition!
Feel free to sign and share! https://linktr.ee/keepcampsfieldclosed
Citizen’s Advice is looking for your feedback
Have you ever received support from OMA or a food bank? Are you a member of a larder or have been to a community Fridge?
If so, Citizen’s Advice Oxford would like you to fill out a survey to discuss you experiences. They are trying to raise funds to provide a new advice service in the various food support services around Oxford, including Oxford Mutual Aid*
It’s anonymous and none of your personal details will be stored.
Every week, we share some feedback that we have received from people we support. As always, we would like to underscore that we do not expect gratitude – unfortunately, OMA is working to provide a form of food support that is necessary both to everyday survival and everyday enjoyment.
We’re hitting the New Year at full steam ahead. As the cost of living crisis rages on, we have been very busy, Our emergency support line is busier than ever, with upwards of 20 emergency parcel requests every day. This represents a staggering increase to where we were just a few short months ago.
Sometimes we have filled up all of our emergency slots for the day by 12pm. If last minute call outs fail we inevitably have to turn people away or ask them to call back the next day.
We really need more drivers and bikers.
If you think you could help, please get in touch by signing up to volunteer here.
If can’t bike or drive but want to contribute in other ways you can also:
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.
Join a team: OMA always welcomes participants in any of our amazing teams, for example phone volunteering, social media, finance, delivery coordination or logistics. To sign up or if you have and questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Donate: If you have the means, you can share your resources with others but making a financial contribution or by donating items requested. For OMA, you can do this here: https://tinyurl.com/2x2vvzhb
You are not alone
We know it is a very difficult time for everyone and we encourage people to keep reaching out if it’s difficult to get through at first. We will do our best to get to you as quickly as possible. You’re not alone.
In the meantime, here is some information on the various sources of support around Oxford you can access around Oxford
Have you ever received support from OMA or a food bank? Are you a member of a larder or have been to a community Fridge?
If so citizen’s advice Oxford would like you to fill out this survey to discuss you experiences. They are trying to raise funds to provide a new advice service in the various food support services around Oxford, including Oxford Mutual Aid
It’s anonymous and none of your personal details will be stored.
Plastic bags/bags for life needed
If you have far too many plastic bags lying around your house and don’t know what to do with them, let us help you! To save us from spending money on plastic bags, please consider donating yours to OMA. This is not only good for the planet but it is good for O.M.A’s budget.
If you a regular or emergency contact, please do return any bags you might have from us. You can give them to the driver or biker.
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.
We wanted to say a huge and heartfelt THANK YOU to St. Antony’s College Oxford who has been preparing simply beautiful meals for Kitchen Collective and Regular / Emergency Parcel Contacts. This was especially wonderful over the festive period as many of our other partners took a well deserved break over Christmas
If you work in a kitchen or go to an Oxford College why not encourage them to get involved with Oxford Mutual Aid’s Kitchen Collective programme
‘… OMA have been so helpful and organised that we have all made easy work of it’ – Head Chef at St. Antony’s
Winter is always particularly tough however our challenges this year were exacerbated by the Cost of Living Crisis which grows deeper by the day.
Nonetheless, so many of you pulled together to show solidarity with your friends, neighbours and to one another. Thank you so much.
Regular schedule continues
A huge thank you to everyone who has continued to support us throughout the Winter break, and for the first time since we have been established, we were able to take breaks across New Year and Christmas weekends. This was so important for the welfare of our staff and volunteer teams and we thank everyone who made sure this was possible.
From this week, we continue with our regular schedule such that deliveries will be made every day and emergency parcels will be available every day except Tuesday & Saturday.
As the costs of living continue to rise and more and more people are plunged into increasingly precarious circumstances, please do reach out to check in on those in your communities. We are there to help everyone – we do not means-test and are always there to offer support. If you know anyone who needs support – please do share our signposting leaflet which offers advice and information both on how to contact OMA as well as other local sources of support. We will be looking to update this in 2023 so if you know any other services which you would like to us to include, please contact us as email@example.com
Solidarity with striking workers
We wanted to continue to send out utmost solidarity and strength to all those continuing to stand up for working rights and conditions. In the coming weeks the Nurses Strike continues, with striking workers picketing outside the John Radcliffe Hospital.
The ongoing effects of austerity and cuts to welfare systems are apparent everywhere – and this devastating reality is affecting more and more people every day. We see hundreds of referrals from working people every week, and know we need to continue to support those fighting for better pay, better work security and working conditions.
This year we were amazed by the kindness and organisation which facilitated a lovely delivery of hundreds of presents over the Christmas period. This involved wrapping, packing, calling, purchasing, donating and delivering and we saw fantastic organisations, schools and colleges get involved from all across Oxford. This would not be possible without each and every one of you so thank you to everyone who shared and spread the message of joy and support this season. We know it made such a difference to those receiving gifts and thank you all for this amazing continued effort.
How can you help us in 2023?
As ever, we have been astounded by the ongoing support over the Winter break and know that as it has done every year our community will continue to grow in 2023. We always need more and more people to join us – whether that is as a driver, delivery coordinator, remote support or at the Hall.
Over the past few weeks we have noticed a shortage of people available to pack parcels and help with tasks at the Hall. We urgently need more support so if you know anyone who may be able to help even for a few hours a day – please ask them to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email www.oxfordmutualaid.org/volunteer
Raid your cupboards
We also face continued shortages in 2023, and really need as much support as we can get in the form of small donations, donation drives, fundraising and more. This week we really need:
If you are able to donate please send items to 276 Cowley Road, OX4 1UR