The history of Oxford Homeless Medical Fund

Oxford Homeless Medical Fund (OHMF) was established in 1981 to respond to a clear gap in services, namely the provision of accessible, appropriate and effective primary health care for a significant local population of homeless people with complex, multiple and enduring health and social needs.

Early years

Until 1985, GP surgeries were held in a hostel, the night shelter and the Salvation Army Citadel. In 1985 the Luther Street Centre was established, operating from a small portacabin in the night shelter car park.

OHMF was formally constituted in 1990, and was instrumental in the development of Luther Street Centre, guiding the project in the successful delivery of health care and responding to the complex and challenging needs of the patient group. In the first 10 years the number of patients coming to the Centre increased five-fold. Up to 70 people visited each day but there was space for only 12 in the waiting area.

Dedicated medical service

In 1996, OHMF launched a special fundraising appeal to raise money for a permanent medical centre to serve homeless people. Thanks to generous donations from our supporters, the purpose-built Luther Street Medical Centre opened in January 1999.

Objective achieved

In the years that followed, it became clear that the Centre needed to develop in order to meet the increasing number of patients. An extension was completed in September 2005 providing additional space for clinics, meetings and training. The day-to-day operation of the Centre was fully transferred to Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust as part of a Partnership Agreement.

With these twin developments at Luther Street Medical Centre, we achieved our core objective of developing and ‘mainstreaming’ an effective primary health care service for homeless people in Oxford.

Merger

The OHMF Board of Trustees concluded that, although there are numerous unmet needs within the local homeless population, Oxford was broadly well-served with homelessness services when compared to many UK cities. Therefore, the logical next step was to merge with a larger, likeminded charity, Oxford Homeless Pathways (OxHoP), which at that time was known as Oxford Night Shelter.

“Our two organisations have co-existed for nearly two decades, sharing in each other's triumphs and difficulties but, more particularly, sharing each other's clients. The homeless people of Oxford benefit hugely from the tight co-working and collaboration of our two services, and it feels only right that we should be working to ensure this continues in the future.”
Lesley Dewhurst, CEO, OxHoP

With the 2006 merger of Oxford Homeless Medical Fund and OxHoP, the OHMF Trust Administrator transferred to OxHoP and continues to work from the office at Luther Street Medical Centre. The OHMF Board of Trustees was disbanded.