A REDNAL charity which is struggling to keep going amidst the Coronavirus crisis has now been targeted by burglars who stole more than £1,000 worth of sports equipment and damaged its storage lock-up.
The raiders targeted Headway Birmingham and Solihull’s brain injury centre and head office in Chapel Rise.
The charity’s headquarters had been closed since March 20 due to the Coronavirus lockdown but many staff are still working at the premises daily.
When they arrived on Monday morning they found archery equipment and fishing gear – used by the brain injured clients to help their rehabilitation – had been taken.
Most of it was bought thanks to a grant from The Angling Trust but one client’s personal much-loved fishing equipment was also stolen.
Sue Tyler, CEO at Headway Birmingham and 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.”
Many of Headway’s staff have been furloughed since the outbreak and the skeleton team which remained were working hard to deliver the organisation’s new remote services while the centres are unable to open.
The charity is offering welfare calls, doorstep visits and a range of online services designed to ensure its vulnerable clients have the support, food and medication they need during the crisis, and ongoing contact from those they know and trust.
Sue added: “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.
“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.”
The charity is facing financial difficulties it has never experienced in its 30-year history of providing brain injury services.
Because it is slightly too large to be classed as a ‘small local charity’ it has missed out on Government help and the many ‘grassroots’ funding schemes being offered in response to the coronavirus outbreak.
Sue said: “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 and 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 should call police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.