FRUSTRATED Oxfam supporters this morning spent up to an hour queueing in temperatures of almost 30 degrees as the charity’s Cowley superstore reopened after lockdown.

Hundreds of motorists, eager to drop off donations after lockdown clear-outs, today descended on the store, on Oxford Business Park, which was among the first of the Oxford-based charity’s shops to reopen.

Grateful staff were well prepared for the wave of generosity, taking in 350 bags of donations in the first hour alone.

Mother of two, Heidi Utton from Alexandra Road, West Oxford, was among those waiting patiently for an hour despite setting off 30 minutes before the store opened.

She said: “It was bonkers! It opened at 10.30am and already there was a line of traffic beyond the roundabout. Stewards weren’t letting people queue any further so we had to wait in a car park for another 20 minutes.

“We had done a massive clear out though, with a car full of stuff, and I wasn’t going to turn around.

Read more: Fears of job losses at Oxfam

“It’s mad that it was so busy but it was very well organised. I just felt sorry for the staff working there, who must have been sweltering.”

The store is alternating days for drive-through drop-offs and shopping, with yesterday being the first opportunity to donate. Many other charity shops, including some other Oxfam stores, are unable to take items.

 

Banbury Cake:

The Oxfam Superstore when it opened last year

People donating items at the Cowley superstore are given a trolley onto which they place their items. These are then wheeled into a storage area and unloaded, with items left for 72 hours before being sold, to limit the risk of contamination from coronavirus.

Mrs Utton said: “I’d encourage people to go, but not all at once. And ring ahead before going anywhere else as not everywhere is accepting donations. Also, maybe spread out donations to give everyone a chance.”

Oxfam spokeswoman Cordelia Kretzschmar said: "We took 350 bags in the first hour and we positioned a member of the team in a hi-vis jacket to manage the line of cars and ask people to come back in 30 mins if it got too close to the roundabout. The queue cleared after the first hour.

"We’re unable to take more donations today as we need to isolate items for 72 hours before handling them and our storage space is now full.

"We’re hugely grateful for the generosity of people bringing us their lockdown clear outs and want to make this as easy and safe as possible for our donors, volunteers and staff."

The superstore opened last year in a 18,500 sq ft unit on the Oxford Business Park North site. Billed as a destination shopping experience, it doubles as a community space and includes an on-site café, lined with parts from an Oxfam water tank.

It was announced earlier this year that a third of 800 staff at Oxfam could be made redundant, with the coronavirus pandemic leading to a lack of funding at the charity.

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Trade union Unite described the threat to jobs a ‘a tragedy in the fight against global poverty’. The job losses could include Oxfam offices across the country, as well as the specialist warehouse in Bicester which supplies vital equipment such as water tanks.

Banbury Cake:

The superstore after opning last year

HOW TO DONATE

  • Oxfam Superstore is taking donations on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10.30am-4.30pm.
  • To ensure safe distancing, the store itself isn’t open.
  • Donors drive to the back of the store where they can drop their donations in a green tub.
  • The superstore team have produced this helpful film to show the donation process
  • If donors have a ‘Tag Your Bag’ Gift Aid number, they should attach it to their donation bags or boxes in advance to speed up the process.
  • Separate out different types of items such as clothes, books, homewares, into different bags or boxes to help the team sort through them more easily and quickly.
  • Oxfam recommends that donors follow the Superstore on social media as it posts regular updates.
  • If making a big donation of multiple boxes, contact the superstore in advance Tel 01865 396322
  • Find it on Instagram here...
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