New home found for Witney’s food bank

Witney’s food bank has found a new home after fears it would have to close if it couldn’t find a new site.

The Oxfordshire West Food Bank had been operating out of a garage in Hailey Road, but organisers were concerned no heating or toilets at the site put volunteers off from helping out over winter.

But a cross-party team of councillors have helped secure a new base for the food bank at Cottsway Housing Association in Avenue Two, Station Lane.

Food bank founder Jo Cypher, from Bampton, was delighted that a new site had been found.

She said: “Not only is it going to be warmer, but it’s a bigger space and will be easier for people to get to.

“It is not far from places like the job centre, the Citizens Advice Bureau and Base 33, which are our main three referrers.”

She added: “This is going to make a massive difference for us and I’m feeling very excited about it.”

The food bank will be moved to one of the offices at Cottsway’s site in Witney for up to six months.

Duncan Enright and a team of local politicians including Andrew Coles, Laura Price, Jane Doughty, David Snow and Stuart MacDonald helped find the new base for the volunteers.

And the food bank could be inside its new home as early as this weekend.

Mr Enright said: “This is fantastic news and it just shows what we can do when we all pull together.

“Many thanks to the people who lent them the garage for all those months, and to Cottsway for finding a solution in time for Christmas.”

Sue Lakin, operations director at Cottsway, added: “We are very much a community based organisation and are keen to do what we can to help such an important lifeline for people who use the food bank.

“Local councillors have been involved in the search for new premises and I’m sure that they will, along with us, also support the group to find suitable longer term accommodation.”

However, one of the owners of the garage where the food bank is currently based, Nick Fraser, said: “I was very disappointed because essentially we’ve been putting them up now for over a year.

“I even spoke to them in the summer to offer to make it a more permanent situation where we would go in for planning permission to convert the garage to make it a better standard, which they actually declined.”

He added that toilet facilities were available to the food bank’s volunteers at the petrol station next door, which is joint-owned by Mr Fraser.