This week, OUSU publishes the result of its survey on student attitudes towards homelessness, which was completed by over 1,100 Oxford students.
Ninety-four per cent of respondents recognised that homelessness was a big problem in Oxford. Oxford has the second highest level of homelessness per capita in the country.
However, many students indicated they were unsure about how to help. The On Your Doorstep campaign claims it will try to counter this, providing useful advice on how students can help Oxford’s homeless population.
“Over ten years ago, the homelessness charity Thames Reach launched the controversial ‘Killing with Kindness’ campaign, which is most famous for its ‘moneyman’ image depicting the outline of a corpse with small change,” a spokesperson said.
“The campaign set out to discourage people from giving change directly to people who were begging. The results of the On Your Doorstep survey suggest that this campaign has been successful: only 1.4 per cent of those surveyed strongly believed that it was a good thing to give money directlt to people who are begging.”
Fifty-six per cent of respondents to the campaign’s survey either disagreed or strongly disagreed with the idea of giving money directly to beggars. Despite the tendency for students to disagree with direct giving, around 21 per cent of respondents claimed that they give money to people on the street more than once a month.
Nevertheless, around half of respondents claimed never to give money or food, and two thirds said they never buy the Big Issue. According to its website, “the Big Issue Foundation’s mission as a UK charity for people who are homeless is to connect vendors with the vital support and personal solutions that enable them to rebuild their lives.”
Oxford’s vendors buy copies of the Big Issue from the Oxford centre at a reduced price, and they can keep the profit from any copies they sell.
Around half of respondents thought that people begging on the street often lie about how they will spend the money you give them, and nearly 40 per cent of respondents were unsure.
“The Big Issue offers an alternative to this problem, as vendors are supervised and helped to tackle any problems with drug or alcohol addiction by the Big Issue Foundation,” the spokesperson said.
Only three per cent of respondents to the On Your Doorstep survey believed that being homeless was homeless people’s fault, and only four per cent believed that homeless people could easily find a room or a job if they wanted to.
The majority of people said that they do not know what help is available for homeless people in Oxford. The On Your Doorstep campaign intends to give people the tools to help[ the homless quickly and effectively.
If You would like to give money to Oxford homelessness charities, you can donate online to the Oxford Poverty Action Trust and Oxford Homeless Pathways.