EvERY ONE COUNTS

AT OASIS, WE ARE DRIVEN BY THE BELIEF THAT EVERY SINGLE PERSON MATTERS

OUR STORY

Our founder, Victoria Armstrong, first came to Manchester as a student in the early 1990s.

Having found affordable accommodation in Gorton, but not knowing the area, she was shocked by the levels of poverty and deprivation all around her. 

As an outsider, Victoria experienced a great deal of abuse and aggression; she was robbed and had bricks thrown through her window. It was during this time that something remarkable happened. In 1992, Victoria became a Christian and her view of life changed.

Around this time, Victoria was inspired by a dream: "God gave me a vision for a building pumping out his unconditional love, showing me how much he loved this community of people." She saw lives being transformed and the city changed radically. Some years later, the first opportunity came to put these ideas into practice. Three asylum seekers visited Victoria's church one Sunday morning - tired, cold and in urgent need of help. The building was opened up and her church family got behind her efforts to ensure they got all the help they needed.

From this small seed, bigger ideas began to germinate. A small team began providing hot meals to local people - for some, it would be the only one they'd get all week. A great deal of tenacity and perseverance was required to build trust and credibility with local people, who were understandably sceptical in the early days. But by 2004, Oasis had started gaining momentum and recognition in the area, with regular clients realising The Oasis Centre was more than a short-term project - we are here to stay!

As trust grew, people started to tell us what would make a difference to their daily lives. In 2005, we took a big leap of faith and a great step forward by moving our Day Centre to our current home, Collier House, a Methodist hall. We began to reach many more people and welcome new volunteers.

Over time, the Oasis team became increasingly aware of the multiple generations of families living on benefits alone, and of the negative impact that this has on people - destroying ambition, and suffocating dreams of a brighter future. So, in 2015, we brought all of our services together in four linked projects: RE-BUILD, RE-ENGAGE, RE-SKILL, RE-START. The ambition of having a permanent building remained a theme throughout. The next chapter awaits...

victoria armstrong

The Oasis Centre founder & C.E.O.

"There is one thing we all have in common, no matter who we are. None of us chose where we were born or what family we would be raised in. It is only by the grace of God that I was brought up in a loving home with everything I could need to live well and healthily. This is why it is logical to me that if you see someone who hasn't had a good start in life, suffering abuse, neglect or poverty, you must get involved. You must show them the love you have been given. Unconditionally." - Victoria Armstrong

OUR VISION AND VALUES

Our vision is to see God-given transformation for the people of East Manchester; from chaos, isolation and hopelessness, to stability, community and fullness of life.

Our mission is to provide the unconditional love, care and support required to enable people in our community to overcome the deprivation around them, and to live peaceful, productive and fulfilled lives.

We provide an essential 'first rung on the ladder' for those who are hardest to reach; people whose lives are characterised by crisis, loneliness and despair.

 

​We enable people to address the often complex issues behind their immediate needs, with compassion and respect.

We are ambitious - We have high aspirations for our clients and our community. We challenge assumptions and provide the support required to achieve lasting change.

We are COMMITTED - We are in it for the long haul. Complex and ingrained issues often take time to address and healing can take many years, so perseverance is essential.

We are COMPASSIONATE - We champion mutual respect, tolerance and kindness; all of which begin with self-awareness and self-respect.

We are TAILORED - We adapt the support we give to recognise the unique physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual needs of each client.

We are PRAGMATIC - We aim to deliver the most efficient and cost-effective working methods, always looking to innovate and improve our service.

We are RESOURCEFUL - We make the most of our resources and look to work in partnership with other like-minded organisations.

Our values and motivation to serve spring from our Christian faith. 

Our inspiration and model is the example of Jesus Christ, who demonstrated practical compassion to the most marginalised and desperate in society. His call is our call, to those in dire need:

 

"Are you tired and worn out? Come to me and you'll recover your life. I'll show you how to take a rest. Walk with me and watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won't lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you'll learn to live freely and lightly." (Matthew 11:28 - The Message)

 

All our services are available to people of any faith and those with none. 

OUR PROGRAMS

RE-BUILD

From chaos to stability

A common catalyst for the visit by a resident to the Oasis Centre is their need to address a crisis situation. We therefore offer support to address the prevalent crises, as means of encouraging contact with the centre. This currently consists of:

  • Emergency Provision - we have both a process for self-referral and a system of referrals from other agencies such as Job Centre Plus, local G.P.s, housing providers, churches and schools. These clients are often in desperate need of food and clothing, so we provide nutritious emergency food packs and good quality clothing packs.
  • Cafe - The Oasis Centre is open three days each week, and it includes a free cafe providing hot nutritious, well-balanced breakfasts and lunches to individuals and families.
  • Charity Shop - We provide clients with the opportunity to access affordable clothing and other items, through our 'pop-up' charity shop in the centre.

It is always our aim to respond to the fundamental, root causes of these critical situations, and experience has shown us that this is far more likely to be possible once trust has been established through our initial response to the crisis.

This currently consists of:

  • Community Support Team - clients are given access to support and advice from the community support team and they are also directed to other relevant agencies and services who can help address the root causes of their 'emergency' needs, e.g. issues with debt, housing, benefits, addiction, mental health, physical health and employability skills. Many of our clients display multi-stranded problems and require extensive support to identify and address their long term needs.  

DUSHY's story

Get in touch

The RE-BUILD program is co-ordinated by Dushy Caldera, who is a former client of the Centre, who progressed to become a volunteer, and then in 2014 joined the staff. While in her voluntary position, Dushy trained on an access course in Social and Community Care, before enrolling on an accreditted Advice and Guidance course, enabling the Oasis Centre to legally give advice.

"God led me here, gave me a new start and surrounded me with a new family. I want the people I serve to know the love of God and his faithfulness the way I have." - Dushy Caldera

RE-ENGAGE

From ISOLATION to INCLUSION

For many people in difficult situations, loneliness can be a reality of life. Through our re-engage program, we help everybody to feel like part of the community. The ways we do this include:

  • WELL-BEING SUPPORT - clients are given access to opportunities which promote the value of physical, emotional and mental well-being, e.g. trips, parties and other social days plus open access Health and Well-being.events where local and relevant well-being services promote their services to our clientele.
  • LEISURE ACTIVITIES - We offer pool, table-tennis, board games and quizzes at each of our sessions as a means of addressing the boredom needs of a more diverse group of potential clients.
  • COMMUNITY SUPPORT TEAM - with interventions as described above (in RE-BUILD).
  • GROUP ACTIVITIES - short-term programs, such as craft workshops, gardening and a choir. 
  • Our Cafe

TOM's story

Get in touch

The RE-ENGAGE program is co-ordinated by our centre manager, Stuart Gosling. Stuart started working at the Oasis Centre as one of our valued volunteers. He has been in the position of centre manager for three years, having previously been employed by Together Trust, working with hard-to-reach teenagers.

"I'm passionate about helping people grow in self-confidence, supporting them to move positively forward in their lives." - Stuart Gosling

RE-SKILL

From HOPELESSNESS to ASPIRATION

Many of our clients find that in order to move forwards, they need to develop certain new skills. Through our RE-SKILL program, we provide a relaxed and encourage setting to learn and practice.

  • BASIC ADULT LIFE-SKILLS TRAINING PROGRAM ('FREEDOM ED') - clients are given the opportunity to develop the pre-requisite skills necessary for a functional lifestyle and successful employment. We introduce them to literacy, numeracy, home economics and art in a creative and non-threatening way. This one year program includes: Urban Art; Cookery Workshop; English For Everyone; Maths Made Easy and Science workshops. 
  • ONE-TO-ONE PHONICS & READING PROGRAMS - We offer individual support in learning the basics of reading, writing and phonics.
  • MOVING FORWARD SCHEME - A tailor-made program which helps clients to reach their full potential through educational trips, training, team building, self-esteem workshops, job club and voluntary employment opportunities. It aims to promote self-worth, develop motivation and aspirations and encourage independence, all of which are important factors in obtaining employment.

We respond to the need for clients to 'move on' by:

  • ​Discussing and then agreeing move-on goals with clients.
  • Liaising with other organisations for sign-posting or formal referral to other services.
  • Arranging work or volunteering placements.

NADIA's story

Get in touch

The RE-SKILL program is co-ordinated by Lizzie Watkins. Lizzie is a qualified teacher who first started working at the Oasis Centre as a volunteer, helping to run our Community Support team. 

"It is a real privilege to work in an organisation where you are part of a team that is seeing people's lives change on a daily basis." - Lizzie Watkins

RE-START

From WORKLESSNESS to EMPLOYMENT

As much as we love spending time with our clients, we realise that the goal isn't to stay with Oasis forever, but to find work. Our RE-START program helps with this in the following ways:

  • ONE-TO-ONE Basic I.T. training - clients are introduced to the basics of I.T. and the internet in 'bite-size' learning packages, which are tailored to meet the specific needs and timelines of the individual.
  • WORK CLUB - we offer a work club service with free access to I.T./internet facilities, and to accredited courses in I.T. literacy and work skills, including searching effectively for jobs, creating and maintaining a personalised C.V., extracting key information from job advertisements and websites, completing job applications effectively, preparing for interviews and answering common interview questions. This personalised and tailored scheme supports clients in increased I.T. skills, increased skills for work, securing further training, volunteer placements or paid employment, increased confidence and increased well-being.
  • in-house volunteer placement scheme - clients are given the opportunity to volunteer at The Oasis Centre, as a means of developing their skills and work experience and improving their chances of long-term employment.

We have demonstrated that these interventions are effective in meeting the needs of 'hard to reach' and 'complex family' clients to engage in learning and giving them confidence to access basic education and training, bettering their chances of full-time employment and challenging their chaotic and unhealthy lifestyle choices. This gives them a new beginning and an end to dependency. Many need considerable support at a very basic level in order to develop what could be called 'pre-requisites' for engaging with 'higher level' support agencies.

The Oasis Centre fully recognises that many clients will always require a considerable amount of time in order to develop these characteristics, especially when we consider the number of years over which many of the problems have developed.

However, our aim is always for clients to 'exit' The Oasis Centre, in a planned way, having achieved the changes we seek to bring about and we therefore liaise with and work with other support agencies who clients can move on to for the next stage of their development. 

DARREN's story

Get in touch

The RE-START program is coordinated by Mike Fowler, who joined the team in March 2016. He previously managed the Choices Community Trust work club for two years, supporting local Gorton and East Manchester residents.

"I am so grateful for the chance Oasis has given me to help people work towards careers they genuinely want, and make use of the skills that God has given them." (Mike Fowler)

WHAT OUR CLIENTS SAY

KATHOasis client

I came into Oasis really needing help. Now I love doing the English class. They've helped me loads and I am even a volunteer.

I came into Oasis when I was really lonely and the job centre was hassling me. The staff in Oasis were different and they really cared about me, and actually helped me. I love coming here and now I have lots of friends.

GARRY OASIS CLIENT
SUEOasis client

I used to sit in my flat and just look at the window because I had nothing to do. I love Oasis as I have so many friends and I've always got something to do. I've been learning to read and write and cook. I can now read lots of words.

I love it here. Oasis has helped me with so many problems. They helped me contact Social Services. They meet me here at Oasis, where I feel safe. I love the computer workshop. I've been getting 100% in my tests.

SUE OASIS CLIENT
CATHOasis client

I was so lonely and sat in my house all day. My dad had died and I was all alone. Since I came to Oasis, I've learned to tell the time, count coins, and I'm learning to write my name. I have got lots of certificates now.

I love Oasis. I'm always out doing activities there, chatting with people. Now I'm trying to raise money for Oasis and other charities.

LYNN OASIS CLIENT
LEEOasis client

Before I came to Oasis I was just bored. I used to watch TV and play online bingo. I was supposed to be looking for a job but the Job Centre didn't help me at all. Oasis helped me straight away. They've built my confidence.

Before I came to Oasis I was just a mess and I was lonely as I didn't have my family with me anymore. Since coming to Oasis I've become a Christian, I've got lots of friends, I'm always busy doing classes and learning things. Life is so much better now.

PHYLIS OASIS CLIENT
HAMDIOasis client

I was down and stressed and I couldn't speak very good English. Oasis has helped me with everything: writing letters, emergency support and even getting a job. I am not stressed now - I have company. I thank God for Oasis.

Oasis has helped me loads. They help everyone. They've sorted out my letters and got me help. They care for everyone and support them.

EUNICE OASIS CLIENT
ALLANOasis client

I've done loads of courses at Oasis. I've got so many certificates, there's not room for them on my walls! They help me with my job search and give me confidence!

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