Belfast Telegraph

Africa charity hit by second robbery in weeks

By Chris Kilpatrick

A charity that provides work for people with learning difficulties faces spending thousands of pounds on new security measures after two raids within weeks.

Tools for Solidarity, based in south Belfast, reconditions used implements which are then sent to Africa.

Many of its volunteers are people from across the city with learning disabilities.

Last week thieves broke into the charity's Sunnyside Street premises and stole machinery and tools belonging to builders installing improved disability access measures. While trying to lift a circular saw over a wall the thieves dropped it, causing it to break.

They then hid other items in nearby gardens, most of which were recovered by police.

The charity had to foot the cost of the damage to the equipment which, coupled with the damage to the property, set it back more than £1,000.

In the days before Christmas, the same building was also broken into and damage caused.

Conor Cleland from Tools for Solidarity said they have no option but to increase the security at the site including the installation of a new alarm system.

The bill for doing so is estimated at more than £5,000.

"For 20 years we've run a supported volunteering programme which we offer to people with learning disabilities," Mr Cleland told the Belfast Telegraph.

"For us it's about giving people the ability to get out and take part.

"About half of the staff are people with disabilities.

"The amount of money this will cost us is a lot out of our pockets."

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