There’s not a lot of point in having stuff if it can’t be shared around

Over the past five years you have given over £25,000 to some amazing and deserving Charites and really changed lives around the world.

This year we have some equally deserving charities. We have been particularly touched by the homelessness in our home town and have chosen the Oxford Gatehouse that does some amazing work in Oxford. Medical Detection dogs are also changing people’s lives through their work in detecting cancers early and assisting early diagnosis. Finally, Toilet Twinning are radically improving the lives of people all around the world through the provision of basic sanitary facilities. The impact of which, reaches much further than you would imagine.

The Gatehouse

Homelessness is a huge and growing problem throughout the UK. What surprises many people is that a prosperous City like Oxford has a well above average number of rough sleepers on its streets, and that number increased by a worrying 50% between 2016 and 2017 alone!

There are many support organisations operating in Oxford, and these are trying to work together to help solve the most urgent issues. One often overlooked fact is that rough sleepers make up less than 10% of the total numbers without a permanent fixed abode, and a significant proportion of these individuals are unable to access full support because they cannot prove a long-term local connection to the area.

The Gatehouse is unique within Oxford in that it works across the whole homeless and vulnerably-housed community, does not require proof of a local connection, and provides all of its services free of charge on a completely non-judgemental, and open basis.

Six evenings a week we run drop-in sessions, which provide support on several levels. The first of these is to meet basic needs by supplying food and drink, clothes, sleeping bags, toiletries and a range of other items. We also run three activity groups on a weekly basis (art, literary and computer groups) which help Guests to build up their skills and confidence, and also provide a welcome distraction from the rigours of their daily lives. Thirdly there are trained staff on hand to give information, and help discuss the needs of Guests on an individual basis, with the aim of guiding them towards re-integration with society, and permanent housing.

All of this is achieved with minimal financial aid from Local Government, and would be impossible without the efforts of 400 volunteers, and the support of many more individuals and organisations within the local community. Now celebrating its 30th Anniversary, the Gatehouse has plans to expand its services further, and will no doubt remain a key provider of support to Oxford’s homeless for many years to come.

Medical Detection Dogs

Medical Detection Dogs is a charity co-founded in 2008 by a team including Dr Claire Guest, a scientist and animal behaviour expert, and Dr John Church, a former orthopaedic surgeon.

The charity works in partnership with researchers, NHS Trusts and universities to train specialist dogs to detect the odour of human disease. It has two main arms: bio detection dogs and medical alert assistance dogs.

The Bio Detection Dogs are trained to detect the minute odours associated with may cancers and other diseases to assist with early diagnosis. This pioneering work could help scientists and medics develop faster, cheaper, non-invasive methods of diagnosis that could impact upon thousands of lives.

Working in conjunction with oncologists, scientists and NHS Trusts, we are continuing studies into colorectal and prostate cancers and have published several scientific papers about our work. In addition, we are exploring the dogs’ ability to detect a number of other cancers and diseases including: Parkinson’s disease, malaria and bacteria.

The Medical Alert Assistance Dogs are trained to assist individuals who manage complex medical conditions, such as diabetes, on a day-to-day basis. The dogs are taught to identify the odour changes that are emitted prior to an emergency and alert the person to take preventative action.

Our dogs are currently working with people with: Type 1 diabetes, Addisons disease, PoTS, pain seizures and severe allergies. By assisting individuals with their conditions our dogs help reduce paramedic call outs and hospital admissions: giving people and their families greater confidence and independence, enabling them to lead a full and happy life.

The charity receives no government funding and relies entirely on charitable donations.

Toilet Twinning

One in three people in the world – or 2.3 billion people – don’t have a safe, clean toilet. That puts them at risk of disease, and if they fall ill, they can't work or farm their land or go to school. Without proper toilets at school, girls especially start to miss class when they hit puberty; often, they drop out of education completely. If women and girls have no option but to squat in the bush, they're vulnerable to attack. In some cultures, they have to wait until dark to venture out because they must not be seen...

Toilet Twinning is a charity campaign which raises funds to help provide proper sanitation, clean water and hygiene education in some of the poorest communities in the world. It costs £60 to twin a UK toilet with a household latrine in Africa, Asia or Latin America and effectively sponsor a toilet for a family abroad who really need a loo. (In return, Toilet Twinning sends a certificate of your toilet twin to hang in your privy with pride!)

Since the campaign began in 2010, Toilet Twinning has twinned more than 100,000 toilets in generally remote and hard-to-reach communities. It trains and supports families to build their own toilet, creating a strong sense of ownership and pride, and ensuring the toilets are used.