A NUMBER of charities and groups in southern Oxfordshire that have become the backbone of local communities during the pandemic will receive thousands of pounds in grants.

A raft of new initiatives were proposed by Wantage town councillors who wanted to recognise the groups in their battle to support those most in need during the crisis.

One of the deserving groups is the Mix Community Space on Mill Street, who have been giving scores of donated laptops to schoolchildren.

They have been helped by the team who run the repair café at the Mix, who have volunteered their time.

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To help this and other recycling work to continue through the coming year the town council has decided to donate £2,500, to be matched with grants from county councillors Jenny Hannaby and Jane Hanna.

Ms Hanna, who is a parent herself, commented on the pledge: “I know first-hand the challenge home schooling is presenting to our children and it is essential each and every one of them has their own computer, so that they can keep up with their learning during lockdown.”

Other major support groups in Wantage, who have supported the local community since the very start of the Covid-19 crisis last year, will also be given cash donations.

The Ray Collins charity and a Helping Hand in both Grove and Wantage are set to receive significant grants of £10,000 and £2,500 respectively to help them continue their ‘fantastic’ work in supporting people from shopping for elderly, vulnerable and those shielding, to food provisions and delivering pharmacy prescriptions.

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Mr Collins, founder of the praised charity, said: “I want to say a massive 'thank you' to the Wantage Town Council for a fantastic donation to allow us to carry on helping our community in these uncertain and unsettling times.”

Wantage Independent Advice Centre, where staff have also been working tirelessly to provide Covid-19 advice to people having to navigate new regulations including benefits and housing problems, as well as running a volunteer driver scheme, is also set to benefit.

Town councillors have earmarked a further £2,500 to support their work, and this amount will also be matched by a further £2,500 from county councillor priority funds given by Ms Hanna and Ms Hannaby.

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Ms Hannaby commented: “For years they have worked tirelessly for the local community but have really gone the extra mile over the past ten months.

“They are working closely with the Vale of White Horse District Council’s Community Hub team and without them it simply would not be possible to deliver so much practical support and advice in these difficult times.”

Wantage town councillor Andrew Crawford pointed out that the Government’s position on free school meal vouchers over holiday terms continues to be so ‘uncertain’.

This is why, Mr Crawford said, the authority has also proposed to repeat its Christmas initiative and fund vouchers for more than 300 eligible pupils at schools within Wantage over the half-term break this month.