As some of you may be aware, homelessness in England has been on a steep rise over the last few years. According to the most recent data from the Ministry of Housing, there were over 4700 rough sleepers throughout the country in 2017  (and some charities, such as CHAIN, believe the actual rate to be several magnitudes higher ). These figures do not even include those stuck in hostels and other temporary forms of accommodation, which raise the homelessness figures' total into the hundreds of thousands if included .
Oxford is one of the worst affected areas and has rough sleeping rates that are double the national average. The city council estimate that there could be between 61 - 89 rough sleepers in the area on any given night . According to figures published by the BBC in January, on a per capita basis (rough sleeping per 10,000 people), Oxford is one of the 10 worst affected local authorities in the country, having higher per capita rates than Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, and most parts of London . It is especially noticeable here in stark contrast to the wealth of the city's University and many of its inhabitants.
In addition to the immediate dangers and long-term health risks (the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is 47 for men and 43 for women ), rough-sleeping (and homelessness more generally) is frightening, lonely, and stressful. In an effort to combat these problems, the Oxford Gatehouse was formed. The OG is a thirty-year-old drop-in cafe based near the center of Oxford at St Giles Church that provides food, company, internet access, clothing and other essential items - as well as information and advice - to the homeless and vulnerable for two hours a night, 6 days a week, nearly all year round. It is mainly run by volunteers and relies heavily on donations from members of the public. The gatehouse aims to provide a ' warm, safe, and therapeutic environment' where the vulnerable can seek shelter, replenish themselves and access many services they might otherwise not be able to . I can personally attest to the popularity of the OG: on any given night there will be 30-50 guests (sometimes more) enjoying the services provided.
This October I shall be running the Oxford half-marathon in an attempt to raise some funds for the Gatehouse. The primary goal is to avoid humiliation and/or heart-attack (in my sole previous attempt I finished outside the top 3 'Zacks' participating), and come in somewhere around the 1 hour 45 min mark. I am hoping to raise around £300 for food and other essential items for the OG. I would be really grateful for any donation (no matter the amount)!