THE manager of a homelessness charity said a new funding initiative would help his organisation to get rough sleepers off the streets.

Eddie Blaze is the general manager of Emmaus Oxford, which offers a residential home in Cowley to 28 homeless people.

It also has a charity shop in nearby Barns Road, where its residents can work.

Each resident has his own room and when they decide to move on they are helped to find accommodation and work.

Earlier this week Oxfordshire Community Foundation launched the Christmas Match Fund to help the homeless.

The OCF fund is supporting Oxford Poverty Action Trust, which distributes funding to different charities and organisations tackling homelessness, including Emmaus Oxford.

Mr Blaze said he was delighted the charity would benefit from the scheme, with OCF matching any donation to OxPAT.

He said: “This is an excellent idea - people will be encouraged to give generously if they know their donation is being matched.

“We have received funding from OxPAT over a number of years and often it funds vital expenses including travel, clothing and healthcare expenses. We are a very small charity so any financial support we get makes a big difference to us.”

Mr Blaze said residents were encouraged to move on to independent living when they were ready.

He added: “A guy moved out a couple of weeks ago so we have been able to offer a room to another man in the run-up to Christmas.

“He is someone who has been sleeping rough in the Cowley area.

“Christmas can be a difficult time of year for our companions - it brings up family issues, or issues around children they are not able to see any more.”

The independent charity is part of the wider Emmaus movement.

Volunteer drivers are tasked with collecting unwanted furniture from homes and businesses to sell in its latest shop in Barns Road, which opened in 2016.

Vans are then used to collect second-hand furniture from the charity shop to deliver to customers. The homeless residence in Barns Road was established in March 2009, one of 29 in the UK.

The Duchess of Cornwall became royal patron of Emmaus in 2006 and in 2009 officially opened Emmaus Oxford.

The city council wants to ensure by next winter that no-one will sleep rough in Oxford. It is hoped the match fund could raise up to £100,000.

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Additional reporting by Nicola Dwornik