Homelessness charity devastated after thieves steal van providing lifeline to most vulnerable

Thieves have stolen a van from a homeless charity providing vital support to some of the most vulnerable people in South Tyneside.

Emmaus North East, based in South Shields, has said that thieves have stolen its van from the Vic Young garage in the town while it was in for a routine MOT.

The van – one of only two owned by the charity – was last traced in Sunderland but thieves have since removed the tracker so the van is yet to be located.

The Vic Young garage has lent Emmaus North East a van free of charge for one month but the charity has warned that the theft will have a devastating impact on the charity’s work following lockdown and in the run up to Christmas.

The stolen Emmaus North East van.

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The van is used on a daily basis to collect donations and to carry out furniture deliveries for their charity shops in Low Fell, Hebburn and South Shields.

It is also used to collect essential food donations for Lucie’s Pantry, the charity’s food bank located in South Shields.

Lucie’s Pantry helps disadvantaged families to put food on the table all year round, but the charity says the theft of the van will have an impact on the struggling families it supports.

Community manager John Harrison said: “The van is a key asset to our charity work and to lose it so close to Christmas has had a big impact on the day-to-day operation of the charity.

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The Emmaus North East van is used on a daily basis to collect donations and to carry out furniture deliveries for their charity shops in Low Fell, Hebburn and South Shields.

"Many of the people we support have been upset by the theft as it means they are unable to carry out their usual work which raises funds for the charity.

"We urge anyone who has spotted the van to call the police on 101 and quote crime reference number 178031220”.

Emmaus North East supports 15 people who have experienced homelessness by providing them with a stable home, personal support and meaningful work for as long as they need it.

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The charity opened its doors in 2017 and has since supported more than 80 people on their journey out of homelessness.

To donate to Emmaus North East this Christmas please visit: https://emmaus.org.uk/north-east/support-us/donate/