Open Collective
Open Collective
Looking forward to Christmas
Published on November 17, 2021 by Muireann Meehan Speed

Dear Friend of OMA,

As we head into the Winter months, we wanted to provide you with an update. While we are facing challenges, we have also been working hard to make our organisation sustainable and prepare for Winter.

Cuts, Shortages and Supply Chain failures

Monthly figures fluctuate according to people’s needs. More recently however, a number of factors have combined to put considerable strain on our organisation.

First, Brexit has caused disruption to the UK’s supply chains in almost every sector. For OMA, the fallout has been serious. 

Rising fuel prices and fuel shortages have increased our transport costs significantly, meaning we have had to cut spending in other areas. We have very little room to manoeuvre, and have had to make difficult decisions which will only become harder as the months pass.  

The impact of food shortages has been even more serious. Most of the 5 tonnes of food that OMA distributes every week is food surplus, meaning we are at the end of the food chain. 

As a consequence, we have frequently run out of food and other basic essentials. Even with generous donations and repeated call outs, we have had to cut parcel sizes for households that are already seriously struggling. This situation is not going to get any better, and we are preparing for the longterm challenges we will face in sourcing and supply. 

Finally, as we enter the Winter months, covid cases have been spiking and we are seeing the usual seasonal increase in demand for our services. OMA is the only source of emergency food support that operates 7 days a week, and  there has been a surge in the number of emergency parcels OMA is providing each day. With food shortages and fuel hikes, we have been struggling to keep up with these deliveries alongside our regular support. 

Despite these challenges, we remain steadfast in our determination to provide support for everyone who needs it. It is clear that the food support we provide is essential for people who may have been told to self-isolate, especially those with low or no income, those who do not have any friends and family around who can support them, or those who can be considered at risk for other reasons such as their legal status, mental health or housing situation.

Preparing our Annual Report

We have been preparing our annual report, and it is astounding to see what we have all been able to achieve together. We would not be able to do it without your continued support. Over the past two months we have delivered over 3500 parcels. We continue to support a huge variety of communities, working with local organisations such as St. Mungos, Syrian Sisters and Oxford Asian Women’s Voice. 

Regular, weekly support was delivered to over 8000 people, including 748 deliveries of essential baby products (formula, nappies and milk). Importantly, these items are not available from any other support provider in Oxford. 

In addition to our parcels, we also made 610 deliveries of reheatable meals, with over 1700 meals sent to households across the city to ensure all are receiving accessible, nutritious food.

Finally, we want to draw special attention to the surge in requests for emergency support. In large part, this is due to cuts to Universal Credit and rising covid-19 cases. Over September and October we delivered 578 emergency parcels, supporting 1083 adults, 707 children and 209 babies

On one day alone, we received and responded to 24 requests. Significantly, this figure includes many households who are requesting support for the first time, and represents a rise of over 30% in requests compared to May of this year. 

Making Christmas Preparations

OMA provides support to around 2000 people every week in the form of food parcels, essential household items & toiletries, baby products and Kitchen Collective meals. 

While food and other essential supplies support are the bedrock of operations, we also believe that at-risk individuals and families should not have to face additional hardship during the holidays because of the financial strain it places on them, or because they are marginalized or excluded members of the community.
Showing solidarity is not just about ensuring that everyone has access to the things they need to subsist, but also about spreading joy and creating a sense of community.
We plan to provide Christmas hampers of gifts and luxury food items this festive season. We have been busy calling recipients, gathering data so that hampers can be tailored based on ages, genders and preferences. If you would like to support this initiative, there are few ways you can get involved.

1. Purchase items on our Gift Registry 

Donate at our gift registry or alternatively, you can purchase items and drop them off at the Richard Benson Hall 276 Cowley Road, OX4 1UR

Please email for more information

2. Volunteer 

Please consider signing up to volunteer with us over the festive season

Final Thoughts 

As ever, Winter will be difficult for the most at risk people in our community. However, we have last year’s experience to build on, and we know that Oxford is capable of when the city comes together.

As ever, we want to say thank you to all our wonderful volunteers and donors. Together, we are making a real difference.