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News

Weekly News 29.01.23

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.

Less than one week to go to apply to work at OMA

This is the final week to apply for the position of Director of Operations and Operations Coordinator at O.M.A. This is an AMAZING opportunity to join a young, driven and enthusiastic team growing a wonderful community of care in Oxford. If you are interested then please consider applying by completing the form here

The deadline is Friday 3rd February (this Friday!!) and early applications are encouraged so if you’re able to apply earlier in the week, please do! If you have any questions you can reach us on jobs@oxfordmutualaid.org (OC role) or coordinators@oxfordmutualaid.org (DO role). 

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

All enquiries to victoria@flosoxford.org.uk

https://www.facebook.com/events/574884940907394/574884957574059/?active_tab=about

Drivers and bikers urgently needed

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 volunteering@oxfordmutualaid.org.

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):

Pasta sauce 

Tinned tomatoes

Tinned meat

Tinned soup

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.

Tickets cost £10 each. You can book here: https://futures.coop/from-below-screening/

Feedback

Although unnecessary, we are grateful for the wonderful feedback we receive each week. 

The meals transformed her. she was was under 6 stone and put on a lot of weight, and she was so excited. It was like a little treat every week

I really appreciate being able to speak to someone and have my questions answered, thank you

Thanks so much for supporting us in this difficult moments for us we really appreciate it. OMA is a fantastic team 

Categories
News

Weekly News 22.01.23

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!

OMA is hiring!

In this exciting new phase in OMA’s history, OMA is hiring three new positions starting as soon as possible: two Directors of Operations and one Operations Coordinator.

These roles present a brilliant opportunity to work closely with a wonderful Coordination team, volunteers, Directors and Members and to be part of a young, growing and driven organisation rooted in the principles of Mutual Aid and solidarity. Over the past three years, our organisation has gone from strength to strength, and is now solidly established in Oxford’s communities. 

We would be very grateful if you could help us promote these exciting new opportunities. 

To find out more, you can read the role descriptions here and apply by completing the forms below before the 3rd February 2023:

Apply for Operations Coordinator

Apply for Director of Operations

Early Applications are encouraged and will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the 3rd of February. 

Links below to share on social media:

Twitter

Facebook

Linkedin

Instagram

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!

A table with some packaged food items, washing up liquid, and posters about volunteering at OMA

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:

2nd February, 11am: ‘State sanctioned hunger’: Sanctions, deductions, and rising food insecurity

23rd February, 11am: ‘A route out of poverty’: The effect of low wages and insecure work on food insecurity

News from the Campaign to Keep Campsfield Closed

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*

To take the survey, click here

It’s anonymous and none of your personal details will be stored.

Feedback

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.

I came downstairs to a wonderful bounty! Thanks so much. Us 4 (me, two cats, and rascal kitten) will eat like Kings all weekend. Much appreciated.

Your stellar work is amazing and makes a real difference to my life

My food parcel was very appreciated. Such good service and great staff, so helpful. Thank you very much OMA.

Categories
News

Weekly News 15.01.23

A busy start to the year

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 volunteering@oxfordmutualaid.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

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 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

To fill it out, click here

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.

Here is our profile and you can choose to nominate us here.

Thanks to St Antony’s College

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

O.M.A is hiring!

In this exciting new phase in O.M.A’s journey, we are hoping to add new members to our staff team!

Find out more here.

Feedback

“Oh my goodness, nothing prepared me for such a parcel. Thank you so much!!!! More than enough. I’m close to tears.” – from a new contact

“The last parcel was great, there were two chickens which saved my family for four days. After the first few months the situation we’re in is really hitting home, I can’t afford all of the things I need and noone has any money to lend or borrow at the moment. The parcels make a big difference, my friend also receives one and we sometimes share and swap things from them.” – From a regular contact

Categories
News

Oxford Mutual Aid is hiring!

We are seeking two Directors of Operations and an Operations Coordinator to join our fantastic coordination team, and our brilliant community.

To find out more about the roles please see the links below. You can always reach out if you have questions:

for Coordinator: jobs@oxfordmutualaid.org
for Director: oversight@oxfordmutualaid.org

To apply please complete the forms linked below before 3rd February 2023. Early applications are welcome!

application form for OPERATIONS COORDINATOR

application form for DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Categories
News

Update 02.01.23

Happy New Year!

We hope you have had a wonderful entry into 2023.

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 coordinators@oxfordmutualaid.org 

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. 

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-63561305

Christmas 2022

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. 

Thank you for the Xmas presents last week. Without them I wouldn’t have received anything. Thank you so much!

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 volunteering@oxfordmutualaid.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:

  • Tinned tomatoes
  • Tinned chickpeas
  • Tinned tuna

If you are able to donate please send items to 276 Cowley Road, OX4 1UR

Categories
News

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 volunteering@oxfordmutualaid.org 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: https://oxfordmutualaid.org/volunteer/ 

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

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

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: https://opencollective.com/oxford-mutual-aid 

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

Feedback

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.

Categories
News

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 https://tinyurl.com/vjnaptpt or our bank account! If you’d like our details please email coordinators@oxfordmutualaid.org 
  1. Volunteer! We’re always looking for more volunteers, especially around our busiest period. To sign up, please do so here: www.oxfordmutualaid.org/volunteer. 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 coordinators@oxfordmutualaid.org 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!

SHORTAGES THIS WEEK: FRUIT AND VEG, TINNED SOUP, TINNED TOMATOES

Tinned Vegetables

Tinned fruit

Tinned tomatoes

Soup

Chickpeas

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: https://www.oxfordbus.co.uk/view-gallery

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: https://membership.coop.co.uk/causes/71665 

And you can choose to nominate us here: https://membership.coop.co.uk/causes 

CHANGES TO SERVICE: TUESDAY & SATURDAY

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.

Feedback

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

Categories
News

The Cost of Living Crisis, Christmas, and the Past Year

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.

You can: 

  • 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 support@oxfordmutualaid.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 volunteering@oxfordmutualaid.org 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.

Christmas

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 christmas@oxfordmutualaid.org

Finances

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. 

Feedback

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 coordinators@oxfordmutualaid.org for general enquiries or to finance@oxfordmutualaid.org for finance related queries. Thank you so much for reading this update! 

Categories
News

News 28.11.22

Last week we saw another rise in requests for support, and at the same time some of the surplus deliveries we usually receive were unavailable. This meant we continued to be stretched thin. This month we also faced a doubled electricity bill and had to make some difficult decisions in the level of support we’re consistently able to provide.

A similar picture was seen across the country, many of which are hitting already marginalised communities the hardest. The Independent recently released some work showing that 1 in 5 Muslims are reaching out for food support with over 50% now living in poverty: https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/british-muslims-food-banks-poverty-cost-of-living-b2223668.html?amp

Thank you to The Porch

Despite the utmost challenge, the community across Oxford continues to extend its arm of support and one organisation that has done that from the very start of OMA is The Porch. They donate surplus ambient and fresh food to us on a weekly basis as well as acting as a collection point for food parcels on Tuesday and Thursday which has been transformative for so many in receipt of support and hugely increased our capacity.

A huge thank you to them and if you are able please consider supporting their Winter Appeal to provide hot meals and continue their brilliant support over the Christmas period.

Increasing Energy Costs at OMA

As we have seen across the country, energy prices have risen which has also hit us at OMA. Last month saw our energy bill double which meant that we had to make other budgetary cuts to make it possible to continue providing support.

Can you help us make up the shortfall?

If you are able, we are in need of regular donations to make up the £260 increase in cost. If you or anyone you know are able to donate £5/ month we can avoid reducing our much needed toiletries, baby and hall budgets.

You can donate here. Please share this with family and friends and within your networks to help us make up the £260 monthly shortfall

Donate Items

As mentioned above we’re facing a challenging few months as we struggle to meet huge growing need across the city. This means that we are in need of donations particularly of the following items:

NAPPIES
Sizes 4,5,6 and 7 and particularly baby wipes

FORMULA MILK
All stages

TOILETRIES
Shampoo, shower gel, conditioner, deodorant

CLEANING PRODUCTS
Bleach, toilet roll, washing up liquid, cleaning spray and laundry powder

Some reduced price nappies are available here: https://groceries.aldi.co.uk/en-GB/baby-toddler/nappies-wipes

Whilst are now having to reduce the amount distributed per parcel in order to ensure resources are equally distributed, we hope that we will be able to increase again, depending on our monthly donations. Please continue to donate and share

Solidarity around Oxford

We continue our support of the striking university staff and ongoing campaign against the reopening of Campsfield.

70,000 higher education staff went on strike at 150 universities, including Oxford where supporters gathered on Thursday to show solidarity with staff fighting to save higher education from further attacks on pay, conditions and equality.

The Keep Campsfield Closed Coalition also continued to protest again the reopening of Campsfield Detention Centre and stood outside the drop in session in Kidlington this week. Continued solidarity to all those fighting to ensure that safe asylum and dignity are granted to all.

Keep up the Christmas Spirit

If you haven’t already please consider donating to our Christmas hampers!! We’re collecting all kinds of delicious and lovely gifts to give away — and in order to give us enough time to pack and prepare these we urge everyone to donate before 9th December if possible! If not — no worries as we’ll be packing up to Christmas Eve.

Feedback

We continue to receive amazing feedback which shows us how necessary the support we provide is. Whilst we wish the systemic injustices which necessitate our existence were removed, we know that whilst we continue to fight we will be here. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for support if you need.

You can go to: www.oxfordmutualaid.org/support or call us on 07310160595.

Thank you so much for the Food Parcel, we can’t tell you how much it means to all of us. Have a good weekend. Kind regards and God Bless you all for everything you do.

X said how grateful she was to OMA for giving her the security of knowing she could eat proper food every day and that it’s really helping her health as she has some chronic conditions.

Categories
News

News 14.11.22

Record numbers of people seeking support

The Trussell Trust has released some frightening statistics about the surging demand for food banks.

A total of 1.3 million food parcels were given out during April to September this year – more than ever before. Almost half a million of these went to children. It is a third more than were provided in the same period in 2021, and it’s an increase of more than 50 per cent compared to pre-pandemic levels. The charity has said food banks are at “breaking point both physically and mentally” and they are set to face their hardest winter yet. Even more worryingly, independent food banks like Oxford Mutual Aid are also seeing increased demand. 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. It has been an incredibly challenging time for so so many of us. The pace at which we have had to work has been relentless over the last three years and we are worried about what is to come. We are calling on the local and national government to recognise that food bank use should not normalised as a long term solution to poverty. The government must ensure that people can afford food and other essentials through adequate incomes.

Read more here.

Gaps in free school meal provision

Children not eligible for free school meals are coming to school with mouldy bread, empty wraps and in some cases nothing at all, according to teachers who told the Guardian they had never seen such desperation in the communities they serve.

According to data released this week, up to 110,000 more children should be considered eligible.

I’ve been in education now since 2006 and I’ve never known anything like it,” said Sarah Livesey, the headteacher at Oasis Academy Leesbrook in Oldham, Greater Manchester. “We are in the worst situation we have ever been. Even with Covid, I think this is our most challenging time.”

Read more here.

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. 

You can: 

  • 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 support@oxfordmutualaid.org  
  • 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. 
  • Volunteer/participate with a local community group. Systemic locally 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 volunteering@oxfordmutualaid.org 
  • Contribute/donate. If you have the means, you can share your resources with others but making a financial contribution or by donating items they have requested. For OMA, you can do this here: https://tinyurl.com/2x2vvzhb 

Schedule changes – emergency parcel availability

Next week we will be carrying out some fantastic work with the OX4 Free Food Crew  on Tuesday to support research initiatives which will help establish some more detailed plans to provide and alleviate food poverty across OX4. The following weeks our team has to take some time to assess our working practices and consider how to support the wellbeing and development of the coordination team, as well as period of leave, therefore for the following three weeks:

EMERGENCY PARCELS WILL NOT BE AVAILABLE ON TUESDAY (15/11, 22/11, 29/11)

EMERGENCY PARCELS WILL BE AVAILABLE ON WEDNESDAY (16/11, 23/11, 30/11)

Solidarity with migrants, refugees and asylum seekers

We stand in solidarity with Refugee Resource who this week make a powerful statement on the most recent rise of hostility towards refugees and asylum seekers.

Freezer of Love meals

Our fabulous partners at Waste2Taste have a wonderful freezer of love where you can collect pay as you feel meals.

Christmas preparations in full swing

We’re very very excited that our Christmas plans are in full swing. We have seen so many wonderful donations come through the doors, but we need as many gifts as possible before end of November in order to give us enough time to pack and distribute these. Please donate either by purchasing through our gift registry or dropping off gifts from the list below to The Richard Benson Hall, 276 Cowley Road, OX4 1UR. If you’re interested in setting up a donation station please do get in touch at christmas@oxfordmtuualaid.org

Feedback

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.

Raid your cupboards

Tea bags

A cup of tea is about as essential as it gets for many households in the U.K however we are running low Please help us to replenish our supplies of this source of great comfort to many people.

Eggs

Eggs are a brilliant source of protein and favoured by by many of OMA’s contacts yet we rarely have them in stock. We have lots of empty eggs boxes and nothing to fill them with.

Fresh fruit and veg

Our supplies have been very low lately so if you have an allotment and have veg to donate, or perhaps a veg box you don’t need all of, that would be brilliant. Fresh fruit and veg is so important for healthy nutritious parcels 

Tins, tins, tins

We always love goodies for cupboard staples. We are consistently running out of tinned veg and fruit which is especially helpful when there are fresh produce shortages (which are becoming more and more frequent). They are also important for folks who are precariously housed or experiencing homelessness, and those who find veg prep difficult. 

Tinned vegetables

Tinned fruit

Tinned tomatoes

Baked beans