Homeless services 'at breaking point'

thisisoxfordshire: Pete Bonney Pete Bonney

HOMELESS services in Oxford are being “stretched to breaking point”, a campaigner warned last night after a major centre announced it was being evicted.

Pete Bonney, who has lived on the streets, said charities are working overtime following the closure of the homeless project.

We reported yesterday that Oxford City Council has served the Gatehouse with an eviction notice due to “financial pressures”. It is planning to relocate.

Last year, homeless service The Gap Project, in Park End Street, closed down after losing its funding.

Mr Bonney, 72, who worked with The Gap and other projects, said: “Things are getting worrying for homeless people.

“There is no guarantee that the Gatehouse will not have to close temporarily while looking for a new home.

“Combine this with the closure of The Gap, and you are talking about a huge strain on the remaining resources in the city.”

Mr Bonney, of Wood Farm, said: “We talk to a lot of homeless people and it’s quite clear that services are stretched to breaking point right now.”

The Gatehouse, which helps up to 100 people a day, has been based at Northgate Hall in St Michael’s Street for nearly 20 years.

The council says it needs to find a more profitable way to use the building.

Brian Stevenson, 48, who lived homeless in Oxford for two years before moving to Birmingham last year, said: “By and large the help on offer to homeless people in Oxford was great.

“People were very kind and there were places for us to eat and get clothes and other places to sleep. Health advice was also available.

“It’s worrying that services are being taken away from vulnerable people.

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“In a city as wealthy as Oxford you’d hope there would be provisions made for people who have hit hard times.”

Since 1991, the Gatehouse paid the council a low rent for the building. It offers homeless people food, shelter and health and employment advice.

The council said the loss of fellow tenants in the building left it “seriously under-occupied”.

Gatehouse project director Andrew Smith said he understood the council’s dilemma and urged anyone who could help with new premises to get in contact.

Cllr Joe McManners, board member for housing, said the decision to evict the charity was “regrettable”.

To contact Mr Smith call 01865 792999 or email admin@oxfordgatehouse.org

Comments (10)

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7:40am Fri 14 Jan 11

jockox3 says...

Frankly the City Council has a terrible record of "finding more profitable ways" of using its property. They refused to try and do a deal with the former QI club because they couldn't afford the rent the City wanted and...it's still empty two years on and a blight on the city.

The rest of the Northgate Hall has been vacant for years as well...no sign of any "more profitable use" there then either. Let's hope they don't turf out The Gatehouse only to find that building disgracefully empty for several years.
Frankly the City Council has a terrible record of "finding more profitable ways" of using its property. They refused to try and do a deal with the former QI club because they couldn't afford the rent the City wanted and...it's still empty two years on and a blight on the city. The rest of the Northgate Hall has been vacant for years as well...no sign of any "more profitable use" there then either. Let's hope they don't turf out The Gatehouse only to find that building disgracefully empty for several years. jockox3

9:30am Fri 14 Jan 11

Joe Cooke says...

The building could make a good Wetherspoons or Revolution bar.
The building could make a good Wetherspoons or Revolution bar. Joe Cooke

10:50am Fri 14 Jan 11

Darkforbid says...

-HOMELESS services in Oxford
are being “stretched to breaking point”-

Yes they are by the non-homeless users of these services

And by week staff who let anyone use homeless funds
-HOMELESS services in Oxford are being “stretched to breaking point”- Yes they are by the non-homeless users of these services And by week staff who let anyone use homeless funds Darkforbid

11:02am Fri 14 Jan 11

EBTWO says...

Jock, you and I probably know a lot of the same people who have been involved in running homeless projects in Oxford for decades.

There are many people who have been visible on the streets for years (remember that homeless calendar years ago? most of them are still around) because despite being given every chance, they choose not to help themselves and re-join mainstream society.

I know one chap who helped start The Bridge, and his view is that there are now too many projects and those who are homeless (by that I mean long term Luther St residents) are to be left alone - 15+ years of support should be enough.

I'm glad the Gatehouse is closing - it was a centre for the drunks and drug addicts to congretate and get into trouble, deal drugs and fight.

Anyway, it'll be summer soon and they'll all migrate to Brighton, before coming back here in September...
Jock, you and I probably know a lot of the same people who have been involved in running homeless projects in Oxford for decades. There are many people who have been visible on the streets for years (remember that homeless calendar years ago? most of them are still around) because despite being given every chance, they choose not to help themselves and re-join mainstream society. I know one chap who helped start The Bridge, and his view is that there are now too many projects and those who are homeless (by that I mean long term Luther St residents) are to be left alone - 15+ years of support should be enough. I'm glad the Gatehouse is closing - it was a centre for the drunks and drug addicts to congretate and get into trouble, deal drugs and fight. Anyway, it'll be summer soon and they'll all migrate to Brighton, before coming back here in September... EBTWO

11:07am Fri 14 Jan 11

Blink says...

The council said the loss of fellow tenants in the building left it “seriously under-occupied”.

This is the kind of comment the riles me.... there was options to get this building back into use for a decent worthwhile community organisation however the council in their usual self dillied and dallied ...... what more can one expect from an incompetent and inadequate council
The council said the loss of fellow tenants in the building left it “seriously under-occupied”. This is the kind of comment the riles me.... there was options to get this building back into use for a decent worthwhile community organisation however the council in their usual self dillied and dallied ...... what more can one expect from an incompetent and inadequate council Blink

11:12am Fri 14 Jan 11

GRB says...

Joe Cooke wrote:
The building could make a good Wetherspoons or Revolution bar.
Don't be silly Joe, the council are happy to see bars closing and the life being sucked out of the city centre. Like Jock says, this building will probably end up empty for years to come.
[quote][p][bold]Joe Cooke[/bold] wrote: The building could make a good Wetherspoons or Revolution bar.[/p][/quote]Don't be silly Joe, the council are happy to see bars closing and the life being sucked out of the city centre. Like Jock says, this building will probably end up empty for years to come. GRB

11:15am Fri 14 Jan 11

GRB says...

Blink wrote:
The council said the loss of fellow tenants in the building left it “seriously under-occupied”. This is the kind of comment the riles me.... there was options to get this building back into use for a decent worthwhile community organisation however the council in their usual self dillied and dallied ...... what more can one expect from an incompetent and inadequate council
Bang on Blink. The council are a total shambles and an embarrassment to our great city!
[quote][p][bold]Blink[/bold] wrote: The council said the loss of fellow tenants in the building left it “seriously under-occupied”. This is the kind of comment the riles me.... there was options to get this building back into use for a decent worthwhile community organisation however the council in their usual self dillied and dallied ...... what more can one expect from an incompetent and inadequate council[/p][/quote]Bang on Blink. The council are a total shambles and an embarrassment to our great city! GRB

11:44am Fri 14 Jan 11

Blink says...

One only has to look around the City and see the buildings that are empty and the buildings they are selling or have sold.... grabbing a few pounds here and there to cover over the cracks does not get rid of the problem... what are they going to do when the cracks re-emerge and there aint no money to throw at them?
One only has to look around the City and see the buildings that are empty and the buildings they are selling or have sold.... grabbing a few pounds here and there to cover over the cracks does not get rid of the problem... what are they going to do when the cracks re-emerge and there aint no money to throw at them? Blink

10:02pm Fri 14 Jan 11

philg says...

The long-term tenant of the NorthGate Hall was forced out in 1989 because of the council hiking the rent beyond what was affordable.

If large parts of it stand empty, it looks like a classic case of the council killing the goose rather than collecting the eggs...
The long-term tenant of the NorthGate Hall was forced out in 1989 because of the council hiking the rent beyond what was affordable. If large parts of it stand empty, it looks like a classic case of the council killing the goose rather than collecting the eggs... philg

10:58pm Sat 22 Jan 11

Isisbridge says...

Darkforbid wrote:
-HOMELESS services in Oxford
are being “stretched to breaking point”-

Yes they are by the non-homeless users of these services

And by week staff who let anyone use homeless funds
Some of these centres have a policy of allowing former homeless to continue using their facilities, to help them in getting their lives back together again. So what are you griping about?
[quote][p][bold]Darkforbid[/bold] wrote: -HOMELESS services in Oxford are being “stretched to breaking point”- Yes they are by the non-homeless users of these services And by week staff who let anyone use homeless funds[/p][/quote]Some of these centres have a policy of allowing former homeless to continue using their facilities, to help them in getting their lives back together again. So what are you griping about? Isisbridge

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