Wakefield food bank forced to 'rethink its future' after fifth vandalism attack in three months

Staff at a Wakefield food bank have said they may have to consider closing after vandals attacked the property for the fifth time in three months.

Monday, 13th January 2020, 2:12 pm
Updated Monday, 13th January 2020, 3:03 pm

St Catherine's Church Centre, on Doncaster Road, offer food packages to those in need, and support hundreds of families each month.

But they will now be forced to throw away hundreds of pounds worth of food, after vandals smashed a window to their storage room over the weekend.

Police are appealing for information on the break in, which took place over the weekend.

The most recent attack,which is believed to have happened on Saturday night, is the fifth since October. This includes two attacks which took place in the week before Christmas.

Lisa Grant, centre manager at the church, said: "They just keep smashing in, they're not taking anything, they're just smashing and making a mess.

"[The room] is where all the bags that are packed are kept. I'd be hesitant to give stuff away because some of the glass is powdered.

"I've had staff and volunteers in tears this morning. We've turned away about 20 people today and that is just heartbreaking.

"We had a guy who pedalled four miles and he hasn't eaten in three days. We've had at least three families in with children.

Lisa Grant, Angela Jones and Max Troisi at St Catherine's food bank, which has been the target of vandalism for the fifth time. They fear that continued attacks could force the food bank to close

"I've got really committed staff and volunteers and for them to have to stand and turn people away, that's just massively upsetting.

"We're here to help people and get them out of this position but we feel like potentially we're being forced down a route where we have to rethink whether or not we can continue with our food bank."

The most recent attack, which is believed to have happened on Saturday night, is the fifth since October. This includes two attacks which took place in the week before Christmas.

But nothing has been taken from the food bank in any of the attacks.

Staff and volunteers said they believed the attacks were targeted, as it would have taken the vandals significant effort to reach the site of the broken windows.

They are also concerned that rising repair costs could see the food bank run out of money.

Angela Jones, volunteer coordinator at the centre, said: "I wouldn't even call it a break-in, it's just pure vandalism. The irony is if they wanted anything we'd just give it to them."

"Somebody must know something in the community. Ultimately down the road this facility might not be here."

It comes as food banks in England report rising levels of referrals. In 2018, St Catherine's Church reported more than 5,000 referrals, an average of more than 13 every day.

Lisa said: "There's nothing I would wish for more than that we don't have to have a food bank any more.

"I pray for the day our food bank are a thing of the past. But demand goes up and up and up.

"People have more complex needs now. In the past a food bank could just give somebody a little bit of help during a short period of crisis but now the crises that people are facing are much longer."

The Wakefield Central NPT would like to speak with anyone who has information about recent incidents at St Catherine’s Church.

Anyone who can assist is asked to call the Wakefield Central NPT on 101 referencing police crime number 13200019324.

Information can also be given online at www.westyorkshire.police.co.uk/101livechat or anonymously to the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.