BREAK - IN!
Despair for brain injury charity
5 May 2020
Thieves have broken into premises at a local charity, and stolen a quantity of valuable sports equipment.
The theft was discovered by a member of staff arriving for work on Monday morning (4 May) at Headway Birmingham & Solihull’s brain injury centre and head office in Chapel Rise, Rednal. The centre has been closed to clients since 20 March due to the coronavirus outbreak, but many staff are still working daily from the premises.
Stolen items included archery equipment and fishing gear, much of which was purchased for use by the charity’s brain injured clients with a grant from The Angling Trust. One client’s personal ‘much loved’ fishing equipment was also stolen.
Sue Tyler, CEO at Headway Birmingham & Solihull, said: “This is another blow for the charity at a time we are fighting for our very existence and trying our hardest to keep up morale.”
She explained that many of Headway’s staff had been furloughed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, and that the skeleton team remaining were working hard to deliver the charity’s new remote services while the centres are unable to open. This includes welfare calls, doorstep visits and a range of online services designed to ensure their vulnerable clients have the support, food and medication they need during the crisis, and ongoing contact from those they know and trust.
“It will take us some time to establish exactly what has been taken but we know already that over a thousand pounds worth of fishing equipment has been stolen, and our sports storage lock-up has been damaged too.” Sue continued.
“Even in normal times, this would be a dreadful thing to happen, but in these current hard times, we despair that someone can do this.”
She explained that due to the coronavirus outbreak, the charity is facing financial difficulties like never before in its thirty year history of providing brain injury services. It does not stand to benefit from the government’s national financial support scheme for charities, as even though it is classed as a small local charity, it is still too large to get help from the government and the many ‘grassroots’ funding schemes being offered in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Sue added: “Clearly we will do all in our power to replace this stolen sports equipment but our priority has to be our very survival, and right now we are concerned for the future of our charity. With the government furlough scheme and the continuation of some council funding, we are confident we will get through this crisis period, and will provide the best possible support to our vulnerable clients while it continues.
“However, it is the impact over the long term that presents us with the greatest concern. By our year end, we will have lost a huge amount of money from lost income for services, the closure of our charity shops, cancelled fundraising events and many other factors, and that means we will have to now start looking ahead to what’s happening afterwards, and start to consider where we can make the necessary cuts to get us through the year.”
The stolen equipment is normally used by the charity as part of its Sports & Wellbeing programme, which includes a range of sporting activities to encourage clients to be more active. Many find it difficult to access community sports alone, due to the physical and behavioural impact of their brain injuries. Fishing has proved to be the most popular sport on the summer sports timetable and so the theft of equipment will be felt deeply by all those who participate.
The theft has been reported to the police, and anyone who has information about the incident or is offered stolen fishing or archery equipment for sale is asked to contact the police directly, quoting Crime No 20BW103657K/20.