A COMMUNITY has been left ‘heartbroken’ after youth charity Base 33 suddenly closed its doors for good.

The Welch Way hub, which supported hundreds of vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Witney and further afield, shut last Thursday after declaring itself insolvent.

Shocked by the sudden closure, the town’s community has unleashed an outpouring of grief over the loss of the charity – with many wondering who will pick up the pieces.

The news comes just months after Base 33 and Witney’s mayor, Chris Woodward, revealed the charity’s acquisition of a new minibus – a purchase that would enable it to spread its reach further across West Oxfordshire and help more young people.

But it was revealed last week that the donations the charity were receiving were simply not enough to sustain it after 15 years in the heart of the town.

Mr Woodward, who cut the ribbon on the minibus, said the charity had always seemed to have a world of new adventures on its horizon.

He said: “I’m really heartbroken for the staff, volunteers and users of Base 33.

“I’ve visited them on a few occasions this year and have always left feeling excited for their next adventures, more so since we launched the minibus so that they could take Base33 across the wider community.

“So many of our young adults in the town have benefited from its excellent work.

“To [chief executive] Wendy Dawson and all whom were associated with Base33, thank you all so much for all that you did to help our community.’

Base 33 was established as a support service for all young people in the community – with a focus on those with complex needs and substance abuse problems.

Its care ranged all the way from youth clubs to specialised one-on-one support.

The charity appeared often in the pages of the Witney Gazette.

Prior to buying the minibus last year, it received £7,000 of funding from Witney Gazette's parent company Gannett Media to help develop a new cyber cafe.

Head of the charity Ms Dawson has not been available for comment since the closure, but a statement was issued by one of the charity’s trustees, Ron Spurs.

He said: “Base 33 has been a part of the fabric of Witney for a significant number of years and has provided support to a large number of young people, not only in Witney but throughout West Oxfordshire.

"The trustees would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the charity’s supporters who have been involved in fundraising and working with the charity to deliver services.

“Base 33 closed its doors and will not re-open.The staff have shown great dedication to Base 33 and have worked tirelessly in a very difficult operating environment have been informed of the closure and are receiving support.”

Mr Spurs said the charity had no alternative to close given its financial position, which was a result of donations falling below spending.

Relevant authorities, clients, commissioning bodies and partners are being informed the charity has ceased to operate – and of the gap it will leave in terms of youth support in and around Witney.

Deputy leader of West Oxfordshire District Council said there would have to be discussions about how the ‘void’ left by Base 33 will be filled.