Long-runing soup kitchen is denied funds

thisisoxfordshire: Icolyn ‘Ma’ Smith Icolyn ‘Ma’ Smith

A VOLUNTEER who was awarded an MBE for running a soup kitchen for the homeless was refused funding – because her work “encourages rough sleeping’”.

Icolyn ‘Ma’ Smith, 81, has been giving up her own time for others for nearly a quarter of a century.

She started a soup kitchen for the homeless 22 years ago from the Asian Cultural Centre in Manzil Way, where it is still run today.

Every Wednesday she provides a roast dinner for about 50 homeless people and is widely praised for her work.

In 1998 Mrs Smith was made an Member of the British Empire in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List, for services to disadvantaged people in Cowley.

And just last week her work featured in The Secret Millionaire television programme, in which wealthy business people meet charities and volunteers to support their good deeds.

Yet while Oxford City Council previously helped her with funding, the last time she applied she was refused.

Spokeswoman Louisa Dean said: “We have funded this project in the past. In the 2010/11 grants process they applied for £8,000 to contribute towards their costs to provide hot meals to homeless people.

“Their application was declined because research has shown that this kind of facility encourages rough sleeping.

“Monitoring information rec-eived from this project showed that many of their users access hostels and shelters, which we fund through the commissioning programme where hot meals are already provided.

“Monitoring information also told us that a high percentage of their users have their ‘own place’”.

Since then Curry Lounge boss Arfan Razak – who met Mrs Smith on The Secret Millionaire – has reached into his own pocket and provide the kitchen with a lifelife.

Mrs Smith, of Kelburne Road in Cowley, said Mr Razak had recognised the work her team was doing by donating £11,500. “That should keep us going for about two years and I’m delighted that he wanted to help,” she added.

Before the rejection the council had given the project £5,000 every year for four years.

Mum-of-five Mrs Smith, a former care worker, said: “I think it’s a shabby excuse to say that what we are doing encourages rough sleeping. Once homeless people have had a hot meal they are in a better position to try to rebuild their lives.

“Two young men who had been coming to us for a couple of months came in one day and told us they had been given places to study at Ruskin College and I cried for joy.

“I think the council is slightly embarrassed by the work we do – we also give people clothes – because we are doing some of the work the council should be doing for the community.

“When I didn’t get the grant I didn’t bother applying again because I thought it would be a waste of time.

“The council can send me the grant forms if it wants to but I’m not going to beg them.”

Mrs Smith pays monthly rent of £300 to £400 to the Asian Cultural Centre, and will keep taking donations to cover running costs and the cost of providing food.

Gordon Wilson, 46, of Gordon Street, regularly used the kitchen when he was homeless in Oxford for four years.

He found a home eight years ago but said he could not have got his life back together without help from people like Ma Smith.

He said: “I think it’s disgraceful.People are in hard times and how else are they going to survive if they don’t get help from people like her?”

Green city councillor Craig Simmons, who represents St Mary’s ward: “I think it’s outrageous to suggest that Mrs Smith’s kitchen is encouraging rough sleeping.

“She is clearly serving a very useful purpose by helping such a vulnerable section of society.

“I think this illustrates the inadequacy of the council’s grants system and the council should review its decision on this.”

Comments (12)

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9:32am Fri 8 Jun 12

Bartsimpson_uk says...

Yep, I'll think I'll go homeless now just so I can get a roast dinner once a week!
Yep, I'll think I'll go homeless now just so I can get a roast dinner once a week! Bartsimpson_uk
  • Score: 0

9:39am Fri 8 Jun 12

WitneyGreen says...

A very short-sighted response from the City Council. Facilities such as this, along with hostels and day centres, provide an essential help for homeless people. It's not just the food that helps - it's the chance for companionship and a listening ear. These ARE services that a council should provide, but they don't.
A very short-sighted response from the City Council. Facilities such as this, along with hostels and day centres, provide an essential help for homeless people. It's not just the food that helps - it's the chance for companionship and a listening ear. These ARE services that a council should provide, but they don't. WitneyGreen
  • Score: 6

10:00am Fri 8 Jun 12

Jwr says...

Bartsimpson_uk wrote:
Yep, I'll think I'll go homeless now just so I can get a roast dinner once a week!
I agree with Bart and Witney! What is Oxford City Council thinking!! These services provide a lifeline for these people. They are not encouraging people to become homeless. They are giving these people a warm meal and someone to talk to. But for the grace of god go we. Oxford City Council need to re-visit there priorities.
[quote][p][bold]Bartsimpson_uk[/bold] wrote: Yep, I'll think I'll go homeless now just so I can get a roast dinner once a week![/p][/quote]I agree with Bart and Witney! What is Oxford City Council thinking!! These services provide a lifeline for these people. They are not encouraging people to become homeless. They are giving these people a warm meal and someone to talk to. But for the grace of god go we. Oxford City Council need to re-visit there priorities. Jwr
  • Score: 1

10:17am Fri 8 Jun 12

mytaxes says...

Oxford City Council has budgeted £100,000 for the Olympic event in South Park and yet refuses a small amount of help help for this service. Typical for this council.
Oxford City Council has budgeted £100,000 for the Olympic event in South Park and yet refuses a small amount of help help for this service. Typical for this council. mytaxes
  • Score: 9

10:32am Fri 8 Jun 12

Mark L. says...

The great work, this wonderful lady is doing is just the sort of thing that I do want my council tax money to help with. Not all the other stuff they waste vast amounts on. As said £100K! on an Olympic event in Oxford, that's got nothing to do with Oxfordshire.
The great work, this wonderful lady is doing is just the sort of thing that I do want my council tax money to help with. Not all the other stuff they waste vast amounts on. As said £100K! on an Olympic event in Oxford, that's got nothing to do with Oxfordshire. Mark L.
  • Score: 7

10:41am Fri 8 Jun 12

eatmygoal says...

Mark L. wrote:
The great work, this wonderful lady is doing is just the sort of thing that I do want my council tax money to help with. Not all the other stuff they waste vast amounts on. As said £100K! on an Olympic event in Oxford, that's got nothing to do with Oxfordshire.
What a stupid decision by OCC. If nothing else, it is a major PR own goal!
[quote][p][bold]Mark L.[/bold] wrote: The great work, this wonderful lady is doing is just the sort of thing that I do want my council tax money to help with. Not all the other stuff they waste vast amounts on. As said £100K! on an Olympic event in Oxford, that's got nothing to do with Oxfordshire.[/p][/quote]What a stupid decision by OCC. If nothing else, it is a major PR own goal! eatmygoal
  • Score: 0

12:02pm Fri 8 Jun 12

Bartsimpson_uk says...

Bartsimpson_uk wrote:
"Yep, I'll think I'll go homeless now just so I can get a roast dinner once a week!"
Why was post deleted???????
Bartsimpson_uk wrote: "Yep, I'll think I'll go homeless now just so I can get a roast dinner once a week!" Why was post deleted??????? Bartsimpson_uk
  • Score: 1

1:18pm Fri 8 Jun 12

Simon33 says...

Because you are a relation of America's bad boy?
Because you are a relation of America's bad boy? Simon33
  • Score: 0

1:03pm Sat 9 Jun 12

Darkforbid says...

Meanwhile Oxford Council spent 1.4 mill on 6 nights shelter beds, that already exist?

The one night out scheme is basically go to the night shelter

I vote the government should no longer give funding to Oxford council homeless plans... they don't help just pay for staff that don't help
Meanwhile Oxford Council spent 1.4 mill on 6 nights shelter beds, that already exist? The one night out scheme is basically go to the night shelter I vote the government should no longer give funding to Oxford council homeless plans... they don't help just pay for staff that don't help Darkforbid
  • Score: 2

9:59am Mon 11 Jun 12

debbip says...

I think the work that Ma Smith does is amazing. This country needs more women (and men) like Ma Smith who are prepared to put the needs of others high on their agenda. I think Louisa Dean from OCC should be made to sit and watch the episode of Secret Millionaire that featured Ma Smith so she can see how much the work of this wonderful woman is so valued (and needed) in th ecommunity. Beter still Miss Dean (if you are reading this), why don't you roll up your sleeves and pop down one Wednesday morning to the Asian Cultural Centre and give Ma Smith a helping hand. Bet you won't be denying her funds once you spend time in her company!
I think the work that Ma Smith does is amazing. This country needs more women (and men) like Ma Smith who are prepared to put the needs of others high on their agenda. I think Louisa Dean from OCC should be made to sit and watch the episode of Secret Millionaire that featured Ma Smith so she can see how much the work of this wonderful woman is so valued (and needed) in th ecommunity. Beter still Miss Dean (if you are reading this), why don't you roll up your sleeves and pop down one Wednesday morning to the Asian Cultural Centre and give Ma Smith a helping hand. Bet you won't be denying her funds once you spend time in her company! debbip
  • Score: 3

3:04pm Mon 11 Jun 12

AndiiP says...

This is disgraceful. How ignorant of OCC to suggest that such great initiatives encourage people to sleep rough. I would love to see this research - my gut feel is that it is complete rubbish!! Who in their right mind would choose to sleep rough if they had the choice between a hard pavement and a nice, warm bed? Get real OCC. Ma Smith is amazing. I believe it was JFK who said 'There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.' You, OCC, are far too comfortable with your 'program' of inaction so much so that you choose to penalise the good actions of others. Shame on you!
This is disgraceful. How ignorant of OCC to suggest that such great initiatives encourage people to sleep rough. I would love to see this research - my gut feel is that it is complete rubbish!! Who in their right mind would choose to sleep rough if they had the choice between a hard pavement and a nice, warm bed? Get real OCC. Ma Smith is amazing. I believe it was JFK who said 'There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.' You, OCC, are far too comfortable with your 'program' of inaction so much so that you choose to penalise the good actions of others. Shame on you! AndiiP
  • Score: 3

10:27pm Tue 12 Jun 12

the wizard says...

Over the last two or three years quite a few people I have come into contact with have told me of the amazing work this wonderful lady does. An outstanding example of community work if ever there was , brilliant, outstanding, dedicated, no words can come close.

The council, and the people who contributed to this travesty should hang their heads in shame. The council is the first to try and portray the City of Oxford as the centre of all things good, when in fact it would appear some of its decision making skills are surely lacking when it comes to humanity.
Over the last two or three years quite a few people I have come into contact with have told me of the amazing work this wonderful lady does. An outstanding example of community work if ever there was , brilliant, outstanding, dedicated, no words can come close. The council, and the people who contributed to this travesty should hang their heads in shame. The council is the first to try and portray the City of Oxford as the centre of all things good, when in fact it would appear some of its decision making skills are surely lacking when it comes to humanity. the wizard
  • Score: 3

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