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What's On, Wellbeing

The Branch Opens In Chipping Norton

A State-Of-The-Art Community Hub

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James Emma Kennedy   The Branch2 pobpmn

This week The Branch Trust, Chipping Norton (CIO) will officially open the doors to a ground-breaking community hub in Chipping Norton – The Branch. The building will offer support, mentoring and signposting advice to residents of West Oxfordshire, and crucially provide space for voluntary and statutory organisations to have a base in the town, mitigating the negative effects of rural isolation.

The charity is celebrating the launch with two official open days today (25 June) and on Sunday 30 June. Both will give supporters and local residents the chance to see the space and discover what kind of services and programmes will be on offer.

The highly anticipated opening follows four years of renovation work to the former bank located in Chipping Norton’s Market Place.

First established in 2020, The Branch addresses the needs of local people in Chipping Norton and the surrounding villages by restoring access to services and providing support around a range of issues such as debt, domestic abuse, loneliness, and lack of opportunity.

It was founded to break down social barriers, help individuals and young people unlock their full potential and create opportunities for learning and development. The Branch has become an innovator in addressing the needs of those living in rural communities, which includes 61% of the population of West Oxfordshire (2001 Census), pulling services back into the market town which historically has served the rural community in and around Chipping Norton.

The Branch Café

The state-of-the-art community hub will be home to Connect Café (a regular drop-in offering craft, connection, and advice) and will host a range of programmes designed to support local residents by offering debt services, nurture sessions, domestic abuse support and young parenting groups. The new community hub sits within the former NatWest building in the hub of the town. This Georgian building has been sensitively transformed by Banbury based Architect, Clews, over the last four years to become a welcoming haven for all.

Every detail of the interior design has been carefully considered, with input from over 50 local community groups, carers and professionals, providing an accessible and dignified space for all who visit the building.

Emma Kennedy, CEO of The Branch Trust said: “We are so pleased to be officially opening the doors to our brand-new community hub. Our research and first-hand experience taught us that families and individuals in West Oxfordshire face a huge number of barriers from rural isolation and income deprivation to rising levels of violent crime and domestic abuse.

“In fact, income deprivation in this area falls among the lowest 30% in the country and attainment and skills amongst the worst 10% (Government Index of Multiple Deprivation figures 2019)."

While the building and renovation work has just been completed, the charity has been active in its local community since its inception. During the Covid pandemic, it delivered more than 46,000 meals to isolated and vulnerable individuals in Chipping Norton and the surrounding villages. It has also completed hundreds of mentoring and support sessions for young people in the county.

Matthew Barber, Deputy Police & Crime Commissioner for Thames Valley added: “I have been hugely impressed by the drive and determination of The Branch team to get the Old Bank project off the ground. I have no doubt that it will be a huge success and with the involvement of partners from the public and voluntary sector, will play an important role in the life of Chipping Norton and, more importantly, be a huge boost to the lives of the individuals that it touches.”

The Branch Open Days

Tuesday 25th June, 11am to 1pm and 5.30 to 7pm
Sunday 30th June (during Chipping Norton Town Festival), 11.30am to 4pm

thebranchtrust.org

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