Activists take over empty Oxford university building for use as homeless shelter

Similar to the Home Sweet Home movement, activists say the situation for rough sleepers is at a 'critical point'

Activists take over empty Oxford university building for use as homeless shelter

Wadham College in Oxford. | Image: Flickr

A group of activists have overtaken an empty Oxford college building for use as shelter for homeless people.

The Independent UK reports that fourteen people have been sleeping at the shelter, which has its own kitchen and showering facilities, since New Year’s Eve.

The building has been vacant since it was purchased by Wadham College in 2015, and will eventually be turned into student accommodation.

In an open letter to Wadham, occupiers asked for their permission to continue using the space for the rest of the winter. A Change.org petition has also launched.

Latest government data in the UK suggests that over 200,000 homes were left unoccupied in 2015. The number of people sleeping rough in Oxford specifically has trebled since 2010.

In October, the Homelessness Reduction Bill passed its second reading in parliament, after no MP indicated that they would vote against it. 

In a statement, the college said they "will be making every effort to speak to representatives of this homeless group as well as local residents, safety experts and the site developers" but they remain concerned about the safety of those who are sleeping rough "in an old and dilapidated building".