Oxford Direct Services (ODS), the commercial arm of Oxford City Council, has successfully refurbished 50% of homeless accommodation for the charity Homeless Oxfordshire.
Homeless Oxfordshire is the largest homeless accommodation provider across the county, providing shelter at its 56-bed hostel and another 144 beds across the local community in 24 properties. ODS won the contract for building repairs, improvements and refurbishment of the properties in 2017 and is 15 months into a three-year contract. To date, more than 50% of the properties have been refurbished, including the provision of new kitchens and bathrooms where necessary.
Lucy Flanagan, Head of Property and Facilities at Homeless Oxfordshire said: “The refurbishments have enabled us to provide people who have been homeless with a homely space while they are temporarily accommodated with us. We have a great partnership with Oxford Direct Services and the quality of work is always to a high standard.”
The outsourcing of the maintenance process has also allowed the charity to focus more on its core objective to accommodate and provide specialist support to homeless adults. Each year, more than 550 homeless people turn to the charity. It provides accommodation and serves 75,000 meals each year. At the same time, the charity helps the homeless get back on their feet and back into society and supports health and wellbeing via the Luther Street Medical Centre. It also influences public provision and policy by highlighting the social impact of its work and raising awareness and reducing the stigma of homelessness.
Homeless Oxfordshire is one example of a commercial relationship success story for Oxford Direct Services since the frontline services team of Oxford City Council established itself as a Local Authority Trading Company (LATCO). The council remains ODS’ biggest customer and the single shareholder but the new business is now free from constraints to also offer its commercial services to other organisations. The aim is to generate profits and streamline the cost of delivery of council services to return more than £10.4m to Oxford over the next four years. It will succeed by offering services such as construction, buildings repairs and maintenance, alongside highways and engineering projects, commercial waste collection, vehicle testing and repairs and pest control.
ODS believes its buildings, construction, repairs and property maintenance team is a crucial part of delivering on its goals. It has extensive experience in constructing new-build domestic and commercial properties from community centres to sports pavilions to refurbishing larger office accommodation.
Simon Howick, ODS’ Managing Director, commented: “With 20 years of experience constructing, repairing and maintaining Oxford City Council’s housing stock of over 7,500 properties, we’re now competing for commercial contracts in the region. With 90% of our staff living within 15 miles of Oxford, our team care about the quality of work and service they provide local businesses and organisations. We look forward to completing our important contract with Homeless Oxfordshire on time and within budget and we welcome similar enquiries from other local organisations.”