455 meals a week, supporting isolated prisoners, and staying connected in a time of crisis
Shared meals, 1:1 mentoring over coffee, twice-weekly house visits, cooking sessions and celebrations. Because ACT is a community, so much of what we do is designed around spending time together as we support people to rebuild their lives after homelessness or prison.
But with coronavirus lockdown, that has had to change overnight.
Thanks to our brilliant volunteers, supporters and funders, ACT has been able to focus on meeting people’s most urgent needs as the coronavirus crisis unfolds. Collaborating closely with longstanding partners across the city, we have radically reordered our activities to adapt to the fast-changing situation.
Emergency food provision
We’re now cooking 65 hot meals a day (455 a week!) for Oxford’s homeless community. A team of eight including community members, staff and volunteers is hard at work each day preparing meals packed with protein, carbohydrates and vitamins. These are distributed outside St Aldates Church to rough sleepers who are now being housed in temporary, kitchen-less accommodation.
Commitment to isolated prisoners
While we may be locked down, people in prison are locked up and more isolated and fearful than ever now that visits are banned and social distancing impossible. But ACT’s prisons worker has permission to continue supporting prisoners at HMP Bullingdon. Her familiar, calming presence and the trust she has built with prisoners across the wings, including in segregation, is proving a lifeline.
Keeping up connection with ACT community members
Seventeen community members live in 11 ACT houses across Oxford. Before the crisis, our housing team and mentors provided them with intensive, bespoke, in-person support. That is now being given over the phone throughout the week. As none of the houses are yet online, we are urgently seeking funding to provide internet connectivity and a tablet in each house, so that people can stay connected with the team and outside world in a time of such intense pressure and isolation. Food parcels are also being prepared and delivered to vulnerable residents who can’t make it out to the shops.
If you are in a position to help, please email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you.