Life at Christ Church is intense and your course and social life may take up all your time and more. But outside Christ Church there is a busy city. There are many ways in which you can help other people. And you may find, as many do, that taking part in something outside college will enrich your own life too. The projects we support offer ways for you to help the homeless, local children, asylum seekers and adults with learning difficulties. Information about these projects and how you can help is given below, but there are plenty of other opportunities too.
Whatever your skills or limitations, your help can make a difference.
Helping the Homeless in Oxford - The Gatehouse, St Michael's Street
In 1988 a concerted programme was started in central Oxford by the churches of all denominations and others concerned about the plight of the homeless, to address the needs of the hundreds of homeless people in Oxford. The Gatehouse is their response. It began over Christmas in 1988 and was an immediate success, both in terms of the appreciation of the customers and the support of local churches and individual volunteers. This led to the establishment of the present facilities at the Northgate Hall in St Michael's Street.
Many of Oxford's homeless people spend their time between the Day Centre and one of Oxford's Night Shelters. During the time when the Day centre is closed and the Night Shelter is yet to open, there is nowhere warm or secure to go. They really appreciate the hospitality provided by volunteers at the Gatehouse, which tries to meet that particular need by offering warmth and shelter in the late afternoon and early evening.
Many Christ Church students, along with volunteers from other colleges, have worked at the Gatehouse in recent years and have found it a very rewarding experience.If you could help, ring Oxford 792999 and ask for Andrew Smith who coordinates the volunteers. The best time to ring is between 5 and 7pm, any day except Mondays. Alternatively you can just call in when the centre is open. Help is always needed and much appreciated, especially throughout the weekends.
Helping Children Learn - The Home Learning Scheme
The Home Learning Scheme is an enormously valuable and rewarding project which offers student volunteers the chance to visit a child or young person in their own home once a week, to help them with their studies, offering them support and encouragement. It is about children learning how to learn and finding confidence in words and numbers and it seeks to inspire children through personal help and attention.
The project is important because it has the potential not only to help children over particular difficulties, but to inspire them with a new vision for their learning which will help them discover their own potential, through the sharing of your own experience and enthusiasm.
The Home Learning Scheme now helps around fifty children throughout Oxford. We also welcome volunteers from other colleges.Volunteers are expected to spend one hour a week in term time with their child in the family home. Commitment and patience are essential, enthusiasm, flexibility and imagination are helpful too. The scheme is very rewarding.
If you are interested in helping please contact the Coordinator, Tania Bhattacharyya - email@example.com - here at Christ Church, who took over the running of the scheme from July 2011.
Helping People with Learning Disabilities - The Seven O'Clock Club
The Seven O'Clock Club is a youth and social club for people over 14 years of age (at the moment between 15 and 81) who suffer with a learning disability. It is very popular, with over fifty members attending each Wednesday evening between 7 and 9pm to play games, listen to music and socialise. For many it is their only night out during the week, or the only safe place for them to meet. The club has outings throughout the year, and an adventure holiday in Wales each Summer. The club started in the 1960s is funded by Mencap, Oxford Social Services the Oxfordshire Youth Service. It meets at the Bullingdon Community centre in East Oxford. Volunteers are most welcome. You would not be expected to deal with members' medical, personal or hygiene problems, but just enjoy the company of the club members.
Peter Hawkins, a member of staff at Christ Church, is the Club Supervisor. If you are interested in going along as a volunteer, or would just like more information, you can contact him on 01865 722535, or speak to him in the gardens at Christ Church.
Helping Immigration Detainees at Campsfield House
The local churches are involved in supporting those seeking asylum at Campsfield House, where many men are accommodated while their applications are processed. Christ Church students have supported detainees and the College Choir has also been to sing concerts there on two occasions.There are a number of ways in which you can help.
1. By visiting. Many young men have no friendly visitor. Asylum Welcome (01865-722082) can make the introductions and give advice.
Campsfield visiting times are 2.00-5.00 p.m. and 6.00-9.00 p.m. The Campsfield House Chaplain, Fr Seraphim, can also give help in providing the name of a detainee who would like to receive a visit.
2. By staging an entertainment - band, choir, drama, whatever. Boredom is the detainee's number one enemy, closely followed by fear, frustration and depression. Call 01865-845700 and ask to speak to an Amenities Officer.
3. By correspondence. Letters are treasured. Don't worry about language problems - detainees with little English will find someone to translate. Use a college address, not your own.
4. By giving a phone card. Detainees have access to public phones - but often can't afford to phone family or friends in the UK or overseas. 'Alpha Africa' or 'Bananas' telephone cards are particularly valued by detainees as they give longer talking time than other cards.
5. By making donations to the 'Chaplain's Discretionary Fund'. This is used exclusively to provide phone cards for detainees who are destitute, or for emergency gifts to impoverished detainees who are released. Sometimes small sums are given to help the wives and families of detainees who have little or no means of support.
Gifts of any of the above are greatly appreciated. For further information or assistance on any of the above, contact :
The Revd. Sarah Parkinson, The Chaplain, Campsfield House, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxon OX5 1RE
tel: 01865 233637
Nightline is an independent listening, support, and information service run for and by students. Every term we run a training course for people interested in becoming volunteers; this involves learning listening and support skills, and is taught in small groups using workshops and roleplays. Training is a fairly large time commitment, but most find it very rewarding.
If you think that this sounds like something that you would be interested in, please have a look at the website where you can get more information about the service and the training process, and where you can fill out an online application form:
Please feel free to get in touch with the training organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.