AN independent food bank in Shipston is still going strong more than a year after it was launched.

As previously reported, the service was set up at St Edmund's Church in December 2012 after it became clear some residents were getting into difficulty.

Over Christmas, the food bank fed nine families who had fallen on hard times but usually feeds about six every month.

But just before Christmas, the collection point in the charity shop, in Church Street, had to move due to illness of shop owner Sandra Benfield and a new one has now been set up in the Badger Valley children's centre Sure Start, inTilemans Lane.

Reverend Andrew Coleby, Shipston rector, said the new arrangement was working well.

"They always have a stock of two or three food parcels which they can give out to families immediately and people who come from elsewhere can get a voucher from there," he said.

"The partnership with Sure Start is critical."

Rev Coleby said since the food bank was launched, residents had been very generous.

"We've had a lot of donations in terms of food and some cash to help with fresh goods brought in," he said. "Shipston Primary made the food bank its charity over Christmas.

"With a rural food bank you're not talking massive scale like urban areas but for a small number of families who are really left high and dry it's really critical.

"What I think is really good is the way every town has a food bank, that's a really good place for us to be in."

Deputy Mayor Philip Vial said it was a vital service for the town.

"We wouldn't have a food bank in Shipston if it hadn't been through volunteers in the church getting it sorted," he said. "I'm absolutely delighted the church set it up in the first place."

Anyone with a voucher can call the Sure Start centre on 01608 664771 and make an appointment.