We’re launching ‘Oxford is My Home’ a community-made magazine to tell the hidden stories of housing & homelessness in Oxford.

The magazine represents a collaboration between Open House, and the Oxford Poetry Library and is supported by Lankelly Chase. Together, we’ve worked with individuals in Oxford to create a series of poems, stories, illustrations, collages, recorded conversations and journalistic articles which explore what it means to call Oxford ‘home’.

Readers of Issue One will hear stories from Oxford including;
// How being born on a psychiatric unit to a young mother with severe mental health issues led one man to decades of homelessness and rough sleeping.

// How a housing cooperative is enabling two young people to play leading roles in activism against the UK fracking industry.

// What it’s like to experience rough sleeping in Oxford as a transgender woman.

// How a married couple, employed for 30 years by a college with attached accommodation are facing uncertainty and potential homelessness as they approach retirement age.

// How two-best friends who live one above the other in supported accommodation, spend 30% of their income traveling across Oxford each day to spend time together as their accommodation has no communal space.

// How, when term finishes and College accommodation ends, one Oxford University student returns to living in a women’s shelter.

// And many more, including what it’s like to bring up small children in temporary accommodation, the difficulties of pursuing a Masters degree whilst sofa surfing and the impact high rents are having in driving young people out of the city.

Oxford is My Home offers a space and platform to have new conversations about housing and homelessness in Oxford, where labels are dropped and equality of voice is paramount. There was no hierarchical operation, and contributors simply used the materials they were surrounded by to engage with the subject. Content was produced collaboratively, through group writing exercises, shared artwork, and by using an individual’s content to inspire or to be physically reworked by others in the room.

The magazine will be on sale from Open House, 36 Little Clarendon Street on 31st July when there will also be a drop-in writing session for all ages and abilities from 10-12. Visitors to Open House will also be able to listen to the accompanying sound installation. Editions will also be available from the Oxford Poetry Library at their local market appearances.

Everything collected on the day has now been published: without author, without titles, without edit. The result is eclectic, straight-forward and very personal, showcasing the rich and diverse notions of ‘home’ from a broad demographic. You’ll find poetry, art, stories, both real and fictional, as well as ideas, opinions and solutions to the challenges of housing in Oxford.

The magazine’s contributors are all visitors to Open House. Many people come into Open House and ask us the same questions; ‘how can we solve homelessness? How can we build more affordable housing? Is anyone doing anything!?’ We think the answer lies in talking to each other. Oxford is full of people who are experts by lived-experience of how our housing system is failing and we won’t understand how to fix the sticky situation we’ve got ourselves into until we start listening to them. Oxford is My Home is a wonderful collection of stories that are rarely heard but crucially important.

People who feel inspired to join this conversation are encouraged to get in touch via hello@openhouseoxford.org or to drop into Open House on Wednesday mornings as the group are now seeking contributions for the next edition of the magazine.