For our Christmas message, we wanted to write something different. This has been a hard year, and we know a lot of you have not been able to gather with your loved ones.
We will publish another update with the monthly figures and stats later this month. For now, we just want to say thank you.
Oxford Mutual Aid began about ten months ago. We were people from different backgrounds: LGBTQ activists, trade unionists, and people from minority ethnic and religious groups. We knew the most at-risk members of our communities were already struggling. We knew they would be hardest hit by Covid, and we wanted to protect, support and empower as many people as we could.
With your help – as volunteers, donors, and advocates – we have grown into the largest provider of emergency support in Oxford.
We provide food and supply parcels to 204 families a week. This includes 60 households with new or expectant mothers, who need formula milk and nappies.
The Kitchen Collective provides reheatable meals to a minimum of 136 households every week, primarily the disabled, the elderly, and those living with dementia – those without the ability to cook for themselves. In addition, we provide an additional 50 meals every week to a local organisation that supports children at risk. Since we began, we have delivered over 20,000 meals.
All of this is in addition to emergency food support requests, most of which come from partner organisations, GPs, Social Workers, or Oxford City Council. We are currently producing 210 emergency food parcels a month. As we enter Tier 4, we are the only source of emergency food support that can deliver 7 days a week. We are regularly getting calls for up to 12 emergency parcels a day, sometimes for families of more than ten people.
We know our updates often contain a lot of dispiriting information about the scale of poverty in Oxford, but we also hope you take pride in being a part of Oxford Mutual Aid. What we have been able to accomplish together is extraordinary.
A special mention should also go to our fantastic case management team, who have helped us to safely support people in very difficult circumstances. These have included those suffering domestic violence and experiencing homelessness. While we cannot share statistics like we can with other programmes, we want to celebrate the incredible work our experienced case management volunteers have done.
It is hard, in an update like this, to make things personal. We cannot tell you individual stories, and there is a limit to what numbers can express.
But what we can say is that through your donation and volunteering, you have helped parents feed their children. You have helped mothers bring their babies into the world. You have helped us bring hot meals to isolated and elderly people, and you have helped get emergency food supplies to those suffering from homelessness.
The New Year
Hopefully, a vaccine will bring considerable relief. But this crisis isn’t over. In fact, we think it is no longer helpful to think of the fallout from Covid-19 as an acute crisis. The economic, health, and social effects will persist long after a vaccine is available.
Thousands upon thousands of families are now without breadwinners, and many businesses that provided employment have closed. Social services are still chronically underfunded, and the fact that so many public services refer people to us is a reminder that the aid infrastructure in Oxford is simply overloaded.
Over the Summer, we worked hard to turn OMA into an organisation that could handle what we thought would be a hard Winter. Over the next few months, we will work to turn OMA into an organisation that can sustain itself over the long term.
For now, we just want to say thank you for being a part of OMA. We hope that wherever you are, whether you are celebrating Christmas with family or alone, you take some joy in being part of this community and some pride in what it has accomplished.