VOLUNTEERS at Bicester’s Community Fridge have been recognised for their hard work and dedication during lockdown by their local MP.

The project, which started back in October 2019, has been delivering small food parcels to households across the Bicester area – reaching around 100 households at its peak during the pandemic.

The fridge is run by Bicester Community Support Service on Launton Road and is one of a network of fridges in Oxfordshire that are all run voluntarily.

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Bicester’s MP Victoria Prentis has recognised the work of the team by presenting them with an ‘Unsung Hero’ award, which seeks to recognise the work of those who have gone above and beyond during the outbreak.

Lucy Stanton, business manager at Oxfordshire County Council’s community support services who helped to set up the fridge, was 'delighted' to receive the award.

She said: “The entire team has gone above and beyond to support those that need it most. I am delighted that they have been recognised for their tireless efforts.

“We all work for the project on a voluntary basis, and what is great is that the council’s Bicester Community Support Service has been very supportive of the fridge and have been fab hosts to us.”

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“We are approximately supporting 250-300 visits a week from people who are coming to use the fridge. Demand has skyrocketed since Covid-19 and we don’t see this ending, particularly when the furlough scheme ends.”

Bicester resident Sally Oxley said: "You guys are amazing. Thank you so much for all that you do."

While the fridge was originally set up as a way to reduce surplus food, the team have found themselves focusing on supporting families who are self-isolating, shielding because of their age or health condition, or who have now found themselves without income during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The volunteers work with food sharing schemes such as Fareshare, Co-op foodshare and Neighbourly to work with local stores, individual companies and distributors to donate their unsold food or surplus foods, when they have it, to prevent food being wasted.

Ms Prentis launched her Unsung Hero Award in June calling on her constituents to nominate anyone they know who has gone the extra mile during the coronavirus outbreak.

She received many nominations from residents about Bicester Community Fridge and therefore felt it was appropriate to praise the team.

She said: “Lots of my constituents were eager to nominate Bicester Community Fridge for an Unsung Hero Award, given the incredible hard work and dedication of all the volunteers.

“It has been brilliant to hear about they helped those in need during lockdown, by delivering food parcels to the local community. We are really lucky to have so many unsung heroes living among us in North Oxfordshire.”

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The MP is still sending out awards and so anyone who wants to make a nomination should send details across to her at victoria.prentis.mp@parliament.uk as she is still sending out awards.

Bicester Community Fridge also received funding from Councillor Lawrie Stratford as part of the county council's Councillor Priority Fund which supports communities across Oxfordshire.