Callous thieves targeted a charity – threatening to stop hundreds of vulnerable people in Brighton and Hove from getting a hot meal.

The WRVS building in Portslade was smashed into, turned upside down and a heavy safe was stolen overnight on Wednesday, December 5.

Inside the safe were the keys for the charity’s hot vans, in each of which 32 hot Meals on Wheels dinners are prepared and delivered to people’s homes across the city.

After the team of 30 staff and volunteers discovered the break-in at 7am yesterday (December 6) they spent hours in the kitchen at Windlesham Day Club in Windlesham Close cooking meals to ensure that everyone was fed, then used their own cars to transport the food in hot boxes to 220 clients.

The WRVS is contracted by Brighton and Hove City Council to run Meals on Wheels, which serves 80,000 hot meals a year.

WRVS area manager Karen Barford said: “It’s very disappointing that anyone could do this, especially as our client group is some of the most vulnerable in the community – those who can’t necessarily get out by themselves. Our meals are just so important for our clients, especially in this cold weather.

“Our priority when it happened was to follow our processes to deliver the meals and ensure the security of the premises.”

Changed locks

Keys for the building were also in the safe, so yesterday all of the building’s locks were changed. The vans were immobilised and their locks are also being changed.

Ms Barford said: “All the meals had to be cooked in the kitchen, staff had to stay longer to make sure we could still provide the food and secure the building.

“I’d like to thank all of our team for their hard work.”

She said all client information was secure.

The chair of the council’s adult care and health committee, Councillor Rob Jarrett, said: “I was horrified to hear of the break-in and I would like to thank everyone at WRVS for the extra efforts they are putting in to maintain a full service for our clients.”

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