A County Durham charity which provides cost-of-living support, advice and delivers food parcels across its community has been left to pick up the pieces after a break in.

The East Durham Trust, based on Yoden Road in Peterlee, is now set to pay thousands of pounds to install both CCTV and fix the premises after it was burgled last week (April 12).

The charity has been based on the estate for 16 years and is known across the community as the ‘go-to’ organisation which has fed around 20,000 people in the last year.

The Northern Echo: Images of the break in.Images of the break in. (Image: EAST DURHAM TRUST)

What was initially believed to be a false alarm was, in fact, a break-in, and volunteers discovered that entry had been forced into the buildings' arts café and money had been stolen.

Graham Easterlow, the charity's CEO, has reacted with sadness as the charity will now face a mammoth bill for repairs which could have been spent on crisis support.

He said: “When we came in in the morning, we realised what had happened. One of the windows was smashed and the café had been ransacked.

“They went through the kitchen, into our reception area and ransacked that too. There was quite a lot of damage for what seems very little return.

The Northern Echo: Images of the break in.Images of the break in. (Image: EAST DURHAM TRUST)

“Unfortunately, desperation has led to a break into something that is, essentially, a support service for the whole community. It’s a real shame.”

Pictures taken after the incident which were posted on the charity’s social media page show smashed glass along the floor as well as the state of the premises inside.

Online, supporters of the charity have expressed their outrage and disgust at the incident which staff will now have to dedicate their time to cleaning up.

The Northern Echo: Images of the break in.Images of the break in. (Image: EAST DURHAM TRUST)

Graham added: “Staff and volunteers are now going to have to spend their time on this. The window that was smashed goes into our garden area, which has wood chippings in it.

“All of those chippings are going to have to be taken up now as children play out there and we need to make it safe for everyone again.

“We’ve also had to replace items inside that have been broken and smashed during the incident.”

Now, the charity is set to undergo work to fix not only the window but install cameras to act as a deterrent to others.


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 Graham said the break-in has affected all his staff, adding: “This is all very challenging. When you have a community organisation like ours targeted either by opportunity or choice, it is devastating.

“It has rocked our staff and what we do as we are very passionate about supporting everyone in our community.”

Durham Constabulary have been contacted for more information.