THE Oxfam charity shop in Farnham faces a race against time to find a new premises as its Woolmead lease is set to terminate on November 2 following confirmation that re-development plans will go ahead.

Staff at the charity shop - located opposite Oxfam’s book shop in East Street, which is not threatened - were adamant that Oxfam’s presence in Farnham can continue, but admitted they are yet to identify a suitable property in the town.

This comes as the new owners of The Woolmead, The Berkeley Group, have reiterated their commitment to redeveloping the site, replacing the existing building with a new mix of shops, restaurants and up to 96 flats.

Betty Hyland, who has worked in the Oxfam shop for over 20 years, said: “We are optimistic, but the reality doesn’t look good. So there is a real urgency to find a new premises.

“It’s a charity shop with a difference. Not only do we reach our targets each week, but we are vitally important for the vulnerable people in our community; it’s like a drop-in centre.”

Helen West, the shop’s manager, added: “It is a team effort to run Oxfam. We are a community shop.”

The Woolmead shop supports various people within the community, such as vulnerable young adults and those with learning disabilities, as well as overseas humanitarian aid and development projects.

Oxfam’s website states: “On average for every £1 received by Oxfam, we invest 82p on our humanitarian, development and campaigning work.”

A comment book, set up by Betty Hyland, has received considerable attention from the shop’s supporters, with many expressing their dismay at the prospect of Oxfam leaving Farnham for good.

One comment read: “This shop closing would be a disaster for the poorer sections of our community.”

Another stated: “I’ve been going to Oxfam for over 40 years; it is vital for both buyers and donors in our town. Don’t let Oxfam go homeless.”

“We meet the most wonderful, generous people,” said Betty responding to the public support. “The way they’ve responded to our appeals has been humbling.”