A VITAL local service fears people in crisis will be worst hit when it is forced to close its headquarters this week.

Wallingford’s Citizen’s Advice Centre will be the first of three tenants to leave the town's condemned Bull Croft building – and is concerned that hundreds of people with complex needs will miss out if it cannot find a new home.

But it is not all bad news, with the service set to temporarily offer one session a week, while fellow Rec Room users Rainbow pre-school and Wallingford Food Bank are now more certain of their futures.

Also read: Wallingford Food Bank closure: Fears young will go hungry

Explaining that the advice centre will close for the last time on Friday, Jon Bright, director of Citizens Advice Oxfordshire South & Vale, said: “We are very keen to find new premises in the town because the advice service is so much in demand.

“Last year, the Wallingford Citizens Advice Centre advised nearly 700 people on a wide range of topics: benefits, debt, employment, housing, relationships and consumer issues.”

He continued: “Many of the people coming to us for advice have complex problems and some are facing crisis situations.

Also read: Southern Oxfordshire Food banks hit out at Universal Credit as demand rises 25 per cent in a year

“We are able to help three quarters of our clients resolve their problems and most to find a way forward.”

However, Mr Bright said advice sessions will be available at the Wallingford Children’s Centre on Friday mornings during August, as a ‘temporary arrangement’.

Longer term, the service has specific needs for a new venue – it is looking for somewhere with a reception area, one to three meeting rooms and a secure back office for staff to make phone calls and write reports.

Also read: Background to the Bull Croft eviction

For those who need advice after Monday, July 22, phone 0300 3309 042 or visit the Didcot Advice Centre at Dales, 9-15 High Street.

Meanwhile, Wallingford Food Bank has been given a temporary reprieve from a looming deadline by local supermarket Lidl, which has allowed it to store food in a temporary building in the store’s car park.

Neville Burt, who runs the organisation jointly with his New Years Honours-listed wife Jean, explained: “Lidl has come to the rescue.

“(Temporary building rent) is not cheap, but it serves a purpose.”

Oxford Mail:

With the deadline to leave the Bull Croft set for the end of July, the pair now have until late October to find a permanent home – reducing fears that local children could be impacted when the food bank leaves its current home.

Mr Burt, whose facility supplies around 2,000 food parcels to local people in need each year, said they had been given ‘positive indications’ from a ‘couple of local organisations’ about longer term space.

Elsewhere, Rainbow Pre-School is not set to be moved out until March 2020 and already has a new site lined up.

Oxford Mail:

Chairman Alice Walton explained: “We have been served notice to leave the Rec Rooms by March 2020… (when) our lease ran until. As opposed to paying fees to Rainbow, the town council agreed to honour the lease.

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“We do have a new site but until the lease is completed we are unable to advise where this is. However, it is going to make Rainbow a pioneering pre-school in the UK which is exciting for all involved.

“It will be sad to leave the Bull Croft as it has been home to Rainbow for over 30 years but there are exciting times ahead for us.”