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Oxford University backs local charities’ community support package in response to COVID-19, and works with local authorities providing practical assistance for those who need it most locally

The University of Oxford has partnered with Oxford Hub and Oxfordshire Community Foundation on a package of support measures to help the local community respond to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Oxford Hub charity and Oxfordshire Community Foundation (OCF) are working to identify needs and coordinate response throughout the city and the county.

Through its collaboration, the University is making available £10,000 worth of funding and will also work with local authorities, community groups and service providers through their two community projects to assist the response effort.

Community projects

Oxford Together, which is led by the Oxford Hub and City Council, is a campaign to gather assistance for those most impacted by coronavirus and individuals self-isolating.

Sara Fernandez, Chief Executive Officer at Oxford Hub, said: “As well as Oxford University’s donation we have recruited several thousand volunteers, including students and staff across the University and colleges.

“They are shopping for people who cannot leave their house, delivering medicines, providing daily phone check-ins to anyone who feels anxious or alone, and just making sure everyone has someone to turn to for support.”

Oxfordshire Community Foundation has set up a Community Resilience Fund to help the voluntary and not-for-profit sector in Oxfordshire continue to function during the crisis and then recover in the aftermath.

Jayne Woodley, Chief Executive of Oxfordshire Community Foundation, said: “OCF has the infrastructure, governance and networks to distribute any funds raised effectively and ethically, and by all working together we can ensure we are best able to act quickly and proactively to help local charities respond better and recover stronger.”

Resources and equipment

The collaboration is just one of the ways the University and colleges have been looking into providing practical support to those who need it most locally.

The Conservation and Collection Care team at the Bodleian Libraries has answered a call from Oxford City Council for Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) to use in their Locality Response Centres, which will help support the most vulnerable in the city. Other Gardens, Libraries and Museum sites across the University have donated PPE equipment to the London Ambulance Service, while many colleges have also contributed PPE, including a quantity of gloves, gowns, masks and aprons, to John Radcliffe Hospital.

Colleges are putting plans in place to offer accommodation to NHS staff working in Oxford University Hospitals and GP surgeries, while the University is offering accommodation for police officers who have vulnerable families at home.

Oxford City Council has partnered with Saïd Business School and University College to provide beds for rough sleepers and people who previously used shared hostel spaces, while Pembroke College is preparing three meals each day for more than 100 formerly homeless individuals now being supported in accommodation across the city.

Vice-Chancellor, Professor Louise Richardson, said: “The partnership between the University, Oxford Hub and OCF will support the most vulnerable and help get aid to where it is needed most locally. We will continue to look for new ways to help the community and make sure that we face this crisis together.”