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This month saw the UK’s sixth Crisis Skylight centre open its doors to the homeless.
The impressive building - formerly a fire station - on George Street, Oxford, has undergone a £3.5m transformation into a Crisis Skylight education and training centre for the homeless. The Crisis centre, known locally as The Old Firestation, provides services for homeless people seeking employment and also offers one-to-one counselling.
There is also on-site cafe open to the public, which is staffed by homeless people, providing them with a meaningful way to use their time as well as valuable work experience.
One rough sleeper in the city said: “This will make such a difference to people in Oxford. It will get people off the streets and give them something to think about other than how awful their lives are.
“It’s hard. It’s hard to find a job if you’ve not got a fixed address or have committed a crime because no one wants someone who’s unstable.”
The building is also home to Arts at the Old Fire Station, an independent charity which will provide dance, art, theatre and music workshops. It houses an art shop, gallery, theatre and dance studio, and the two charities hope to collaborate on some projects.
The opening of the Skylight centre is welcomed by Oxford’s homeless, especially because cuts have forced other services in the city to close.
Crisis UK chief executive Leslie Morphy told The Pavement: “As the economic downturn continues to bite and austerity measures mean cuts to homelessness services, the work of Crisis is ever more important - particularly as homelessness is now on the rise again.
“Our supporters continue to be incredibly generous even in these difficult times, and so our plans to expand have been able to continue. We’re lucky that we don’t have to depend on statutory funding sources to do so.”