Christ Church raises money to help the homeless

Over the past few weeks, staff and students from across the Christ Church community have been involved in a wide variety of efforts to help the homeless. 

On the night of Thursday 30th November, several students and staff took part in the Advent Sleepout Challenge, spending the night in the cathedral to raise money for charities that support those who have no choice but to sleep out.

The participants gathered at the cathedral from 9pm, and enjoyed games and hot chocolate, as well as Compline led by our Succentor, Neil McCleery, before bedding down for the night in various parts of the cathedral. In the morning they enjoyed a cooked breakfast and an early start for Matins, before returning to work and study.

Sarah Hope, Christ Church's Academic Administrator, said afterwards, "The problem of homelessness is really visible in central Oxford, so it was wonderful to be raising money to support Church Urban Fund homeless projects in England. The idea of a sleepover in the Cathedral sounded a little chilly and austere, but the group was a great mix of students, staff and academics, and after several hilarious rounds of the word game 'In the Hat' we scattered to our different corners of the Cathedral to get some shut eye. It was warmer and quieter than I expected (bar the occasional snore - not me!) but the experience gave me a new appreciation for how vulnerable it must feel sleeping on the streets. It's stressful; add in cold, wet wintry weather and not knowing who will walk past, and getting any sleep must be almost impossible".

John Hawke, a second-year History student at Christ Church, added, “Considering the large number of homeless in Oxford, it was a privilege to help raise money to support the Church Urban Fund, which does such great work to help the poorest in our society. It made sleeping on a bed of thin kneelers worthwhile! It was also wonderful to wake up in the Cathedral in time for morning prayer, where we prayed especially for the homeless.”

The Advent Sleepout Challenge was set up by the Church Urban Fund as part of its efforts to ‘transform lives and transform society’. Through the sponsorship that participants receive for taking part in the event, the Church Urban Fund can support night shelters throughout England, providing 4000 bed spaces as well as further support to homeless people. So far the Christ Church team have raised over £3000 for the campaign, which is a fantastic achievement and will make a huge difference to many people’s lives. You can still donate to the Christ Church team’s campaign here.

In addition to this, Christ Church graduate student Anna Shepherd has raised over £300 to buy clothes and other necessary items for Oxford’s homeless.  Anna studied for her Bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature at Christ Church, graduating in 2017, and is currently studying for an MSt in English (1550-1700). With the weather getting colder, Anna thought that it was important to spare a thought for those sleeping rough in Oxford, so reached out to fellow graduate students and managed to raise a total of £330 to buy items such as warm clothes and sleeping bags.

She donated the items to Simon House, a 52-bed hostel for rough sleepers and single homeless people located in Paradise Street in Oxford, which also provides a range of meaningful activities and links to other agencies. The main aim of Simon House is to work with individuals to help them address any problems or behaviour that may prevent them from living independently in their own home.

Christ Church’s GCR also raised money for local charity Oxford Homeless Pathways through their weekly yoga sessions. Lois Stamps, who runs the sessions, donated all of the proceeds from the college’s seventh week yoga class to OxHoP. She wrote in her email to GCR members, ‘OxHoP provides housing, education and health services to the homeless population in Oxfordshire, which has increased dramatically over the past few years due to funding cuts and the recent closures of two shelters. The charity does brilliant, invaluable work, and I am excited to support them!’. A total of £60 was raised for the charity.

We are very proud of all of our members’ efforts to raise money and collect donations that will improve the lives of homeless people both in Oxford and further afield.