A South Tyneside community allotment raided by burglars is back in business with a little help from its friends – old and young.
Greenhope Oasis welcomed around 20 children yesterday to kick off its Easter holiday educational and events programme.
It did so after a fast and effective response from well-wishers to its plea for donations to replace essential electrical equipment stolen in the attack.
The Brockley Avenue site, in South Shields, was broken into overnight last Tuesday and £8,000 of items taken.
Burglars scaled a 7ft-high spike-topped metal security fence before breaking into a locked steel shed where the goods were stored.
Louise Peaker, development manager at NECA, the charity which operates the allotment, said: “It’s brilliant to be open as planned.
“We had five or six donations of much-needed items from individuals, which we are very grateful for.
“We’d always planned to have children in at the allotment today, having them here has given us all a big lift.
“It makes our team realise that this what it’s all about – it’s helped to get everyone extra motivated.
“The burglary was a setback, but we are not letting it get us down. We will gradually build ourselves back up.”
Thieves struck between around 5.30pm last Tuesday and 7.30am on Wednesday, when the raid was noticed by volunteers turning up for work.
They made off with two generators and power and hand tools, as well as screws and nails from the 15 plot allotment.
NECA is a Newcastle-based organisation which supports people with substance and gambling misuse issues.
Bosses are now examining ways to improve security, including the possibility of installing CCTV.
The community garden, which supports children and other visitors to learn about gardening and the outdoors, has been open for around 20 years.
Another group of children is expected to take part in activities tomorrow and on Monday and Wednesday next week.
Northumbria Police has confirmed it has yet to make a breakthrough in its investigation.
Detectives believe around £8,000 of goods were taken – and have appealed for help in catching those responsible.
inquiries are ongoing and anyone with information is urged to contact Northumbria Police by calling 101 and quoting reference number 217 03/04/19.