THERE are fears a 'lifeline' charity shop for people in Cowley is under threat of closure due to the impact of coronavirus.

A statement seen by the Oxford Mail appearing to be on behalf of staff and volunteers at the Age UK store claims the Templars Square shop is in 'imminent' danger of shutting.

Age UK has admitted it has taken the 'difficult decision' to propose permanently closing a number of its charity shops but refused to confirm if the Cowley branch was among them.

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The appeal seemingly from concerned workers, who it is understood have been told not to talk directly to the media, said: “This shop has provided both sustainable, affordable clothing as well as a place where elderly lonely people can always find a friendly face if they want a chat. Sometimes we are the only people they speak to from one week to the next."

It added: "The staff and volunteers have always felt that supporting the local community in this way was a major part of the Age UK mission statement. We think that closing us would be against what the charity stands for."

It said while times were hard for the charity people were more interested in shopping sustainably to protect the environment, adding: "Surely this provides a great opportunity to improve trade and should be embraced by the charity. I know there are many customers who are loyal to our shop."

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The message also encouraged residents to share support for keeping the Cowley shop open by emailing or calling 08001698080.

Cowley city councillor David Henwood, said: "Age UK is very much a lifeline for many local residents, who depend upon the shop not only for affordable products , but also for the sense of wellbeing staff generate within the store."

He added he appreciated the effect coronavirus has had on charities, which rely on shops to raise revenue, but said: "This valued outlet will be sorely missed, and clearly have an impact on the elderly in Cowley, who depend upon the services the charity provides."

A spokesperson for Age UK said the charity was 'very pleased' that the Government gave the green light for non-essential shops to reopen from June 15 and the charity's own reopening was set to roll out in phases.

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They said: "This first phase has seen some (67) shops opening across the country from this week, including the Bicester shop in Oxfordshire.

"However, unfortunately Age UK has also taken the difficult decision to propose the closure of a number of our charity shops on a permanent basis."

They added: "We are taking this action with a heavy heart and are currently consulting with staff who are affected and are therefore not able to provide further detailed information at this stage. Announcements about those shops not reopening along with the next phase of openings are expected soon. Information will also be available on our website”