The old HSBC bank building in Bradford on Avon could soon be given a new lease of life as a ‘one stop shop’ to help vulnerable people in the town and surrounding villages.

The Church Street building has been empty since the bank closed in September last year but a newly formed steering group is proposing to transform it into a centre to help the working poor and unemployed locally.

The proposal includes moving the food bank from Bearfield Church, offering a debt and advice service and creating a space which other organisations who help local people could use.

It would also include a meeting space for community groups and be a centre for meetings and drop-in point for information.

Graham Dove, chairman of the steering group and a licensed lay minister at Holy Trinity Church, said: “In the 1700s, Holy Trinity was left a small number of legacies for the poor of the parish.

“There were 11 different charities set up and I was involved in amalgamating these charities and accounts into one, the Holy Trinity Community Fund.

“We were wondering what we should do with the money. We wanted to invest it in the community and we felt there was a need to help vulnerable people in Bradford on Avon and the outlying areas.

“Then we heard mayor John Potter was in discussions with the Clifton Diocese of the Catholic Church, which owns the HSBC building, in regards to that being rented out to the community.

“We got together and said we can provide some financial backing so why don’t we join forces.”

Mr Dove said Clifton Diocese was happy with their proposal and they were now negotiating over the rent.

Peter Dunford, the Bradford on Avon Community Area Network manager, said: “The Bradford on Avon Area Board at its meeting on May 14 agreed as one of its priorities to support the vulnerable across the community area and this was identified as a key project to help address the needs of the working poor and the unemployed in the local community.

“The availability of the former bank offers an opportunity to retain the use of the building in the centre of town for financial services and advice to serve the vulnerable as well as the wider community.”