17th Sep, 2019

Heartless thieves steal sensory equipment destined for new garden at SoLO in Chelmsley Wood

Sarah Mason 14th Aug, 2019

‘HEARTLESS’ thieves broke into and stole sensory equipment from a Solihull learning disability charity as the final touches of a new garden were put into place.

Solihull Life Opportunities’ (SoLO) headquarters on Walnut Close in Chelmsley Wood was broken into between 5pm on Friday (August 9) and 8am Monday (August 12).

It is believed thieves stole a therapeutic rain wall feature which was destined to take pride of place in the new garden arbour.

Since spring, work has been carried out to turn what was described as a ‘lumpy, bumpy and overgrown space’ into an accessible sensory garden for all at SoLO – complete with raised planters and a wheelchair access path.

The garden has been renovated after a number of extensive fundraising campaigns including one by the charity which supports children and adults with learning disabilities.

Go-Organic CIC, which works with volunteers with mental health issues and disabilities to transform deprived plots of land into flourishing green spaces, and bank HSBC also raised funds and helped with the works on the garden.

Speaking to The Observer Paula Burnham, the operations manager for personal assistant and adult services said she was devastated when she found out the centre had been broken into for the fourth time in five years.

She added: “It is completely soul-destroying to see the time and effort that goes in by everyone to raise the money for it all to be taken away in a moment – it is just disgraceful.

“It’ll take even more hard work to re-raise those funds for the items. We have to count every penny without having to then replace those items.”

Every day there are a number of clubs and activities including after school clubs, a disco for adults and day sessions.

Since the theft, work has continued to complete the rest of the sensory garden ready for all at SoLO.

Sarah Forbes, chief executive at Gro-Organic, said: “When our team arrived on Monday to find that the rain feature had been stolen over the weekend we were absolutely devastated.

“It has rocked our whole work force.

“Everyone in the area knows the wonderful work that SoLO do for the most vulnerable people in our community and it is sickening to think that people have been watching our work and have knowingly prayed on the charity which is a life line for so many.

“If anyone reading this knows anything about the theft and if we can recover the stolen items please call me anonymously, we would love to see the items returned where they belong.”

West Midlands Police said they received a report that a theft had taken place at SoLO.

Anyone with information should contact police on 101 or online at www.west-midlands.pnn.police.uk.

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