OXFORD'S food bank is appealing for donations after thieves forced their way into its Botley base and stole cash.

The building on the Curtis Industrial Estate was targeted on Bank Holiday Monday and nearly £200 was taken.

Damage caused by the incident is likely to cost the charity upwards of £1,000 as it now has to replace locks, keys and a safe that was broken in to.

Manager Cathy Howard said: "We have lost money that was kept on site to cover day-to-day running costs.

"But it is really more about the emotional impact - we feel violated.

"It seems so unfair to target a charity.

"We are vulnerable because we do not have high tech security or alarms.

"Our volunteers have been warning other groups and it seems many have already had the same problem.

"We rely a great deal on trust and most of the time that is justified.

"But this is a bit of a shock to the system."

Ms Howard said the food bank will now be looking at upping its security in light of what happened.

The incident comes as the organisation deals with one of its busiest periods with an influx of surplus food being donated from summer events and festivals in particular.

Volunteers had been out collecting around a tonne of fresh food every day from supermarkets and wholesalers, much of which would otherwise have been thrown away.

This is given out to more than 80 groups across the county, allowing them to prepare nutritious meals at low cost for the vulnerable people they work with.

Prior to the break-in some volunteers had been working at the Big Feastival event all weekend with others stationed in the industrial estate as normal.

After closing up on the Monday evening, it is believed the thieves struck as some point overnight but the damage was not discovered until Tuesday morning when volunteer Deborah Lewis arrived to open up.

She said: "It was a shock but once I’d reported the crime we decided to carry on as normal.

"It was business as usual."

None of the food bank's operations were disrupted by the incident as volunteers worked hard to ensure regular deliveries were made.

Paul Medley, chair of trustees, said: "Our work has important social and environmental value.

"If members of the public would like to support us, the best way is through regular giving.

"We have been going nearly 10 years and have always relied upon the generosity of the people of Oxford.

"Details can be found on our website www.oxfordfoodbank.org."

Police are investigating - call 101 quoting reference 43180262845