Burglars ransack mental health charity
BURGLARS have ransacked a charity — stealing thousands of pounds worth of equipment and causing severe damage.
Two specialist laptops were among the items stolen from the Mencap store in Chorley Old Road, Bolton.
Thieves removed slates from the roof and kicked their way into the building some time between 5pm on Friday, August 16, and 9.30am on Saturday, August 17.
The building has a charity shop downstairs and a learning centre where five adults with disabilities are taught life skills.
They also help in the shop, which opened more than two years ago.
Pattie Chadwick, project manager and chairman of Bolton Mencap, said: “If someone comes in and says they have nothing we will give it to them.
“We give lots of stuff away. Somebody came out of prison and had nothing and we gave him a shirt, tie, coat, cardigan and a pair of shoes. If whoever did this needed money or some help we would have given them help or could have given them a job to earn the money rather than them take the equipment from people with learning disabilities.
“The five adults come to get some education and have a little bit of fun by using a touch screen computer because they can’t use a mouse or keyboard, which other people take for granted.”
The two specialist Toshiba laptops worth £2,000, four other laptops, an Epson printer, an HP printer, four mobile phones, computer monitors, around three tower computers, two dictaphones, an internet hub and nine digital cameras were stolen.
Savings of about £271, which was going to be used to treat staff and volunteers to a meal, was taken after a locked filling cabinet was smashed, along with a £60 float from the till.
Ms Chadwick added: “When I told staff we had been burgled one woman started to cry and said “how could anybody to this to us”. It is really upsetting.
“When we told the students some started crying because it’s their shop. We don’t tell them it’s a project, we tell them it’s their shop. They were crying because it’s their belongings. It’s really upsetting for them.
“The students get a wage packet and we try to give everybody a few pounds a bonus. It has been awful telling the students they won’t be getting a bonus now.”
The till was smashed, bags of clothes taken along with costume jewellery from the shop and gold, which was due to be weighed and exchanged for cash.
Mencap in Bolton is community-based cause and is not associated with the national charity.
It relies on donations and grants.
Staff are now desperately appealing to the public to help them restore the “lifeline” facility back to what it was.
They are calling for anyone who can help with funding or can provide two fire doors or metal doors, a new till, filing cabinets with locks, unlocked mobile phones, laptops and computers. Prizes for raffles are also wanted.
Ms Chadwick said she will not let the burglary defeat the charity but believes it will be extremely difficult for it to return to what it was.
A charity night to boost funds is expected to be held next month.
Cllr Noel Spencer, who represents Farnworth and supports the cause, said: “The burglary is absolutely disastrous, especially when you think about how much work goes in to raising money to keep the organisation going. For this to happen is an absolute nightmare.”
Police confirmed the burglary has been reported and is being investigated. No arrests have been made.
People who can help should call Amy Wilding, programme manager on 07595 221797 or call into the store at 308 Chorley Old Road.
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