Thieves targeted a Sheffield recycling charity just days after its premises were destroyed in a massive inferno.
Raiders struck at the office of Sheffield Reclaim – the only building left untouched by a huge fire at the Attercliffe site which saw huge plumes of smoke visible across Sheffield from more than 30 miles away.
The burglars stole a laptop and tools donated to help clear up after the fire, as well as tipping over furniture in Thursday night’s raid, just four days after the devastating blaze.
However, staff and volunteers have vowed to ‘bounce back’ from the heartbreak as they re-opened the office to their 25 trainees again yesterday.
Liz Carrington, activity centre manager at the charity, said: “We had a burglary and they took a couple of things, but it was more that they took everything out and left it on the floor.
“If you didn’t laugh you’d cry, but that would get us nowhere.
“We always look on the bright side of everything.
“We’re not fully open but we are trying to get things back to normal.
“All the trainees are back in helping out and we’ve got some volunteers coming in again.
“We’ll not be up and running as we used to be for a few months yet as the whole site has been destroyed.”
Reclaim provides work in the recycling industry for adults with learning difficulties and also helps them learn to live independently.
Its sorting site and activity centre were torn apart by the fire, which was tackled by dozens of firefighters and involved 20 tonnes of plastic on Sunday July 14.
Melted piping dangles from the roofless structures left behind, an acrid smoke smell remains in the air and a recently completed activity centre is now a blackened room filled with debris.
Work to clear a space so household waste can be sorted again is ongoing, although the charity’s phone line is still down.
Supporters have donated items such as sofas and tools, with a plasterer and plumber offering their time to transform old upstairs offices into a new activity centre.
But the charity is appealing for more help - including donations, volunteers to help with practical clearing and items such as art or sports equipment, chairs, books and computer games for the centre.
Liz said: “It was a big shock to see the site for the first time.
“Some of the trainees have been here 20 years and rely on this place so much, so the main thing is to get things back to as normal as we can.
“One of them, when he found out, was so concerned about not seeing his friends.
“We can rebuild things again as long as we are together we’ll be fine. We will bounce back.
“We can’t thank people enough for helping, but we do still need more help.”
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue is still investigating the cause of the fire.
* If you can help Sheffield Reclaim, email firstname.lastname@example.org