Oxford Brookes students help out this Christmas

Oxford Brookes students help out this Christmas

Oxford Brookes students are doing their bit to support others over the Christmas period, from working with homeless people to helping vulnerable neighbours and supporting refugee children with their Christmas reading.

Architecture student Alexander has been working in the kitchen at The Porch, Oxford’s largest day centre for homeless people. “Last Christmas I volunteered for the day and was happy to have a hand in preparing a hearty roast with all the trimmings. I’m looking forward to doing the same this year.”

Alexander, who has been volunteering at The Porch through the pandemic, says the work has given him a real sense of satisfaction. Last year saw the centre deliver more than 44,000 nutritious meals and provide a daily welfare service to rough sleepers across the city. “It’s good to be part of something - not least a team that’s so dedicated, responsible, respectful and fun. I’ve learned a lot about people, my community and myself. I’m grateful to be in a position to help out.”

Oxford Brookes students have also teamed up with the charity Oxford Hub to make sure people feel part of the community this Christmas. The Hub runs schemes which match volunteers - often a student - with a local person needing support, from help with shopping or dog walking to a regular friendly chat.

Oxford Brookes students at Oxford Hub also get involved in longer term work. In the festive run-up, placement students have been helping staff to organise Christmas card drops, encouraging volunteers and their matches to do seasonal activities together, and signing people up to city-wide Christmas lunches - plans that may need adjusting in line with the government’s Covid guidelines over the festive period.

“It’s great to be part of the Hub’s work, to see it filling essential gaps and meeting the needs of local people”, says Leillah, a Social Work student. On placement at Oxford Hub until October, she was involved in assessing people’s needs and matching them with volunteers to provide support.

Yolande, a Social Work student also on placement, put neighbours in touch with others needing help with shopping, food parcels and prescriptions during lockdown. During the festive run-up she’s been supporting the team to encourage local donations of handmade cards and small gifts for people on their own over Christmas: “This work really does have an impact on individual people’s lives and it’s so rewarding to be part of that.”

Students working as tutors with local charity Jacari, are delighted that Blackwell’s Bookshop is partnering up with their charity for this Christmas’s Giving Tree scheme. Jacari, a popular volunteering charity with Oxford Brookes students, provides free 1 to 1 tutoring for refugee children whose first language is not English. The Giving Tree scheme, a yearly nationwide campaign, provides a wrapped book as a present, donated by a member of the public. As one Brookes student volunteer, Eva, explained: “The children we work with might only receive one book this Christmas, and I’m really looking forward to helping my pupil to read their book - I know they’ll be so excited!”

Last week, students at Oxford Brookes gathered together to bring some seasonal cheer. As part of the Post Pals Christmas card scheme, they channelled their creative flair into festive cards and messages for children with a serious illness. As one student put it, “Helping out with the Christmas card campaign was such a heartwarming experience. Making the cards and sending individual messages to each child really captured what Christmas is all about.”

Main image shows: Natalie making Christmas cards, activities with Jacari, and Alexander at the Porch.