Every Christmas St. Mary’s supports a charity for the homeless in Oxford throughout the month of December. This year we have chosen The Porch Day Centre for the Homeless.
Formerly known as Steppin’ Stones, The Porch is Oxford’s oldest homeless day centre, founded in 1986. The charity, based in Magdalen Road, helps homeless or vulnerably housed people to rebuild their lives. With a small staff and fifty volunteers, the Porch supports the vulnerable to tackle the issues that prevent them from moving forward towards a more positive lifestyle.
The Porch provides healthy food, practical help, companionship and opportunities for development. During the pandemic the centre has continued to provide nutritious food and welfare support to those most in need. Last year the Porch provided 44,713 meals and face to face support to 348 people in the homeless community. It is now open six days a week, providing a free hot meal, a welcome, friendship and encouragement to around 60 vulnerable people.
The Porch provides green therapy and gardening training opportunities for the homeless at their allotments at Elder Stubbs in Cowley. Here gardening teams cultivate six plots and a small orchard and help to provide nutritious organically grown food for the homeless. The centre runs a weekly art session, and offers counselling and therapy sessions, as well as vocational training. The centre also helps to raise public awareness through the Porch Preserves range of vegan jams, marmalades and chutneys. All proceeds return to the centre to support the homeless.
Many beneficiaries have described what the Porch is doing as ‘lifesaving’, not only for their physical health but also for their mental well-being. As one client told the team: ‘If there weren’t people like you, then we’d be in a dangerous place’.
In 2020 the centre secured funding to buy a former church in Magdalen Road. Once renovation is complete, this will provide increased space, showers and laundry facilities, as well as a place to sleep during the extreme winter weather.
You can donate here by clicking on this link to access the Christmas Appeal donations page. We would encourage you to gift aid your donation, as this will increase it by 25%. A box for this appears after you have stated your donation amount.
Let’s make this a special Christmas!