Action group formed to keep Oxfam in Honiton

Charity has closed High Street shop and intends to sell building.

AN action group has been formed to persuade Oxfam to stay in Honiton.

The charity closed its High Street shop on Saturday, but still owns the building.

Retired lecturer Tony Simpson, 69, is spearheading the campaign.

“It is the only international charity shop Honiton has and there will be implications for appeals that aim to tackle global poverty and disasters, such as the Pakistan floods.

“I am opposed to the closure, because local supporters did not know about it until the last minute.”

Mr Simpson has formed a Friends of Oxfam to save the shop and says: “We think the decision to close it was made by faceless accountants who are concerned about financial margins and not the Oxfam mission on global poverty.

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“If this shop disappears from the High Street, who is going to promote the global vision and replace the donations and good work Oxfam does in Honiton?”

Mr Simpson said Oxfam offered work placements leading to NVQ qualifications to people with special needs.

He claimed donations at the shop for disasters had doubled in the last year, despite the recession.

Patrick Jordan, who was a volunteer at the shop for over two years, said: “I would have liked the shop to have stayed.

“I will miss it, but I thought it would close.”

Oxfam revealed last year that the shop’s future was in doubt and was the subject of a review.

Susan Kass, Oxfam’s operations manager, said in a statement to the Midweek Herald: “I know how disappointed the many loyal supporters of Oxfam in Honiton will be with the news that the Oxfam Shop, which has traded in Honiton for the past 20 years, will close.

“Perhaps partly as a result of the current economic climate, and due to the rising costs of utilities with which everyone will be familiar, the running costs of the shop have risen over the last five years quite significantly, whilst the sales – despite the best endeavours of the part-time shop manager, the wonderful and dedicated team of volunteers, the generosity of our donors and the goodwill of our customers - have remained virtually static.

“The result of this is that the business is now considered unviable (using Oxfam’s business model regarding appropriate ratios of sales to expense) and had reached a point where there was little option but to take the hard decision to close.”

Ms Kass added: “The intention is now that the freehold premises will be sold, and the money raised will then be re-invested into the Oxfam shop programme within Devon, to continue to raise sustainable funds for the work of Oxfam in relieving poverty and suffering throughout the world.

“Honiton Oxfam shop has enjoyed a successful history; during this time the generosity of the town has raised over �300,000 for the essential work of Oxfam in changing lives by working within communities worldwide.”