Heartbreak as playgroup targeted by vandals on four occasions in a week
Eye Opportunity Group
A Suffolk playschool for children with additional needs has been targeted by 'mindless vandalism' on four occasions in one week.
Users of the self-funded support group were left broken-hearted by damage caused on four nights since the bank holiday weekend.
Members of the community are rallying round with offers of free replacement equipment and volunteer labour to clean up the mess and help the service recover.
The first scene of random vandalism was discovered following the bank holiday by a cleaner at the Eye Opportunity Group, which supports families of under-fives with disabilities and additional needs.
Although nothing appeared stolen, a key may have been taken to gain access on Tuesday night and cause further damage.
On Friday morning, it emerged vandals had gone back to target the garden, causing extensive damage to a playhouse, toys and equipment, before they brazenly returned on Friday night to wreak further damage to a CD player and other items, including popular ball pool - part of which was discovered missing.
Generous supporters have made offers to help clear up the damage, replace two broken printers and install extra security measures.
Other jobs include replacing or repairing broken locks, smashed windows, fire extinguishers and a 'kicked-in' door for the currently boarded-up Wendy house, which was handmade and donated as a gift from a grateful parent.
Sanchia Brandreth, manager of the charity playgroup, which has supported families for 35 years from a cottage behind Hartismere Hospital, said the immediate financial cost was incomparable to the impact on activities.
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"We're absolutely broken hearted," she added.
"We're supposed to be a support group for parents with a lot to deal with, and we're struggling to do that at the moment.
"We no longer receive grants, so we have to fundraise for everything - including this, now.
"But we've been overwhelmed by the offers of support."
Eleanore Garwood remains a committee member for the group she found an "absolute godsend" after delivering premature twins.
"It's just unthinkable, mindless vandalism," she said.
"They're so brazen. We can't believe the audacity.
"It's cheering to know there are good people out there, who have made lovely offers of help."
The group said police have been made aware of the damage and are investigating.
Visit secure.thebiggive.org.uk/charity/view/10635 to donate.