Closed Chipping Norton Leisure Centre re-opens as - The Chippy Larder - serving the community during coronavirus pandemic

The Chipping Norton Leisure Centre, closed due to the coronavirus, has now been re-purposed to provide the base for The Chippy Larder: a membership programme that gives people from the community access to affordable and nutritious food.
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

The initiative is a collaboration between Better, the charitable social enterprise that operates Chipping Norton Leisure Centre and The Chippy Larder.

The Food is provided by SOFEA, which sources provisions from surpluses generated by the Thames Valley region’s supermarkets.

The original concept for The Chippy Larder was to operate on a subscription system, where members pay a monthly fee via direct debit and come to the larder weekly to select the food that they would like.

Volunteers outside Chipping Norton Leisure Centre. From back left, Lewis Brain, David Cameron (former PM). Front centre Cllr Rizvana Poole, Simon Lloyd, Philip Sharman, Jason Shurman and daughter.Volunteers outside Chipping Norton Leisure Centre. From back left, Lewis Brain, David Cameron (former PM). Front centre Cllr Rizvana Poole, Simon Lloyd, Philip Sharman, Jason Shurman and daughter.
Volunteers outside Chipping Norton Leisure Centre. From back left, Lewis Brain, David Cameron (former PM). Front centre Cllr Rizvana Poole, Simon Lloyd, Philip Sharman, Jason Shurman and daughter.

A family would pay £17.32 per month (approximately £4 per week) and select 20 Items from larder, plus fruit and vegetables for the week. An Individual would pay £8.36 per month (approximately £1.93 per week) and select 10 Items from larder, plus fruit and vegetables for the week.

The coronavirus has seen many people lose their jobs and fall into poverty, this resulted in The Chippy Larder expanding its offering to anyone in need with those using the service invited to pay a £2 donation – but only if they can afford.

In recent weeks the larder has received 450 requests for support, made up of those on low incomes and the vulnerable.

Applicants can collect their food parcels once a week from the leisure centre or request for it to be delivered directly to their homes.

The contents of a typical food parcel provided by the Chippy LarderThe contents of a typical food parcel provided by the Chippy Larder
The contents of a typical food parcel provided by the Chippy Larder

A small team of volunteers including Chipping Norton Leisure Centre staff members Will James, Phil Stanley and Lewis Brain along with Chipping Norton Town Cllr Rizvana Poole and Philip Sharman with St. Marys’ Church, arrange parcels outside the leisure centre for collection or pack cars ready for home deliveries.

David Cameron (ex Prime Minister and Witney MP) is one of the volunteer delivery drivers.

Cllr Rizvana Poole said: “I want to thank the team at Chipping Norton leisure centre for supporting me in my vision.

"Chipping Norton Leisure Centre, whilst always an integral part of the town has become the hub of our community during this time of uncertainty."

John Busby, partnership manager for Better leisure centres in West Oxfordshire added: “To make good use of the leisure centre, while it is officially closed, made perfect sense.

"The Coronavirus has led to real hardship for many and we were keen to do our bit to help. A number of our staff are now volunteering at the project, while the leisure centre building acts as a distribution hub.

“We’re careful to follow good practice guidelines at all times including social distancing, using PPE when appropriate, along with hand sanitiser.”

*A message from the Banbury Guardian Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

In order for us to continue to provide high quality and trusted local news on this free-to-read site, I am asking you to also please purchase a copy of our newspaper when you do your weekly shop.

Our journalists are highly trained and our content is independently regulated by IPSO to some of the most rigorous standards in the world. But being your eyes and ears comes at a price. So we need your support more than ever to buy our newspapers during this crisis.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our local valued advertisers - and consequently the advertising that we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you helping us to provide you with news and information by buying a copy of our newspaper.

Related topics: