Visual artists often barely get a look in on the college level. But commissioning a number of undergraduates and getting these cards printed has provided the perfect way of showcasing the amazing talent we are lucky enough to have within college. Whether it’s that Santa flying over first quad, the Rower’s Snowman, the Oxford skyline on a blue, chilly morning, or perhaps the intricately and exquisitely drawn festive wildlife, we all have our favourite. For this reason, we must offer our thanks to Shini Pattni, Evelyn Finnie, Gillian McCloy and Leonie Haiden for their wonderful designs. There are still cards and postcards left – so head down to the lodge and pick up a while you still can! (£1 Card, 70p postcard)
All proceeds from these cards go to the Gatehouse charity in Oxford.
The question is: what is The Gatehouse?
Well, as I traipsed down Woodstock road one late Tuesday evening, I had the same question running through my head…
I almost walked past it, for starters, but the small, open door of the church suggested itself too meaningfully to me to let me ramble any further without investigation, so, cautiously, I peered in. A woman greeted me kindly, asked what I wanted and forthwith directed me to the office. I walked through the church annex, amid tables sat at by groups of men and women – the place was buzzing – past a canteen serving tea, sandwiches, pizza, and into an office hidden behind all this. I was introduced to Kat, the woman who oversees most of the operations here. After pleasantries were exchanged, we delved straight into what The Gatehouse does and means. Set up in 1988 by churches around Oxford as a Christmas shelter, much has transformed since then. Now, this place I found myself in, the St Giles Parish Rooms, has been the base of The Gatehouse and its efforts for a number of years. Here, 6 days a week, the charity provides simple nourishment – sandwiches, biscuits, fruit, soup, tea – to those who need it most, namely, Oxford’s homeless and poorly-housed community. The service is open to everyone over 25 years old, and Kat went on to qualify this figure of 25, saying that there was often a tension between the older homeless community and the younger. With more unpredictable behaviour, the charity finds it works better to impose this age threshold. Having said this, she admitted that, if homeless men and women under 25 turned up, they would most willingly feed them at the door.
The operation, as you can imagine, is a big one. With an average of 80 guests showing up every evening, deliveries, preparation, setting up, cooking, serving, cleaning take a vast quantity of man hours. To this end, a team of 200 volunteers work alongside the permanent team to ensure the system runs smoothly.
The Gatehouse, however, are reliant on donations. With only a sliver of council funding, additional sources need to be found. It is for this reason that Oriel College JCR are supporting The Gatehouse this Christmas.