Getting Ready for 2022
Published on January 1, 2022 by Felix J Levay
Dear friend of OMA,
We hope you have managed to see your loved ones this festive season. We wanted to share some of the work that your support has made possible this winter.
Winter is always a challenge, and due to Omicron, this one has been particularly tough. We have managed to keep operating though, thanks to the dedication of our volunteers - both old and new.
We also could not have done this without the support of our incredible partners and suppliers at the Oxford Food Hub and SOFEA, as well as local producers such as Sandy Lane Farm, Cultivate and North Aston Organics. Together, we save over 5 tonnes of food from landfill every week.
Oxford Mutual Aid is the only emergency food provider that is open 7 days a week, and we have remained so in the 21 months we have been operating - we have never once closed our doors.
To do that, we rely on regular donations. Please do encourage your friends, family and colleagues to chip in if they can. Every £5 a month makes an enormous difference.
Although Christmas should be a joyful time, it can be very hard for families living in food poverty. We think that keeping people’s spirits up is an important part of helping them through a crisis.
This December, we delivered Christmas hampers to over 500 households.
We are so grateful to all those individuals and organisations that worked with us to pull this off. The feedback from families, especially from parents, has been truly amazing:
“Thank you so much for looking after us, without you I think we would be going hungry. So happy that people that care for the vulnerable are out there.”
“We were really so happy with the Christmas gifts. Thank you, it was really kind of you.”
“Thank you so much for the Christmas present, I am very excited to open it tomorrow. Make sure you tell everyone at OMA that I say merry Christmas and thank you for everything you do.
Although Omicron has made it much more difficult for us to operate, we are still providing our usual support.
- Currently, we are providing regular food and supply parcels to 503 adults, 270 children, and 90 babies.
- Over 400 Kitchen Collective meals a week, to 79 households
- In December, we delivered a staggering 378 emergency food parcels, to 819 adults, 278 children, and 90 babies
Omicron and Beyond
We are proud of what we have achieved together, but we need to be clear: there is a growing food poverty crisis in Oxford.
Earlier this year, we talked about the likely impact of universal credit cuts and increasing fuel prices. Demand for emergency support is now the highest it has ever been. In December alone, we delivered just under 400 emergency food parcels referrals (as opposed to regular parcels) to nearly 1200 people.
Referrals come from different places - from GPs, charities, and the City Council, to name a few. The pattern is clear, though. For many people, things are getting worse, not better.
We aim to ensure that volunteers and recipients are empowered to see their positive impact in the community. We also contact each of our regular recipients each week, to reduce the risk of social isolation and the negative health outcomes that it causes.
It is becoming very hard to maintain this level of support alongside the rising number of emergency food parcel referrals. OMA was not intended to nor can it be a long term solution for the levels of deprivation in the city.
We hope that other organisations will join us in calling for a long-term, city-wide response.
This month has been extremely tough, even for winter. We are struggling with the number of referrals we now receive for emergency parcels.
Aside from the strain, the number of referrals also makes us worried about what the New Year will look like. Whatever happens in terms of Covid, more and more families in Oxford are experiencing severe hardship.
Oxford is a rich city, but an increasing number of our friends, family, and neighbours, are facing real privation. We need to keep working together to ensure that no one is allowed to go hungry.
If you can, please spread the word - we need help to keep doing what we do.