An open letter about break-ins at our shops

17 July 2018

Updated: 20/07/2018

Wow, what a week. We’ve gone from the highs of our Bubble Rush fun run last Sunday, to the lows of having another shop break-in the very next day. But what has touched me more than anything has been the overwhelming response from our community over the last few days.

You may have seen that we’ve been all over the news about the devastating break-ins at our charity shops and we have just been completely floored by the strength of feeling in our local community.

If there’s one thing to take away from this horrible situation it is that so many people hold our hospice very close to their hearts.

We’ve looked at what we can do and raising £20,000 could help us improve our shop security and continue to support seriously ill adults and children when they need us the most. I, and everyone else at Keech Hospice Care, would truly like to thank our community for your support. Anything you can do or give means so much to us.

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It is with a very heavy heart I must share with you the news that in the last week, three of our charity shops have been broken into – Katherine Drive, Dunstable, on Tuesday, Sundon Park, Luton, on Thursday and Birdsfoot Lane in Luton last night.

And this wasn’t the first time.

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In fact, over the last 10 months Keech Hospice Care’s shops in this area, and in Bletchley, have been hit a total of eight times, costing more than £11,000 in lost income and damages.

Each break-in has left all our staff and volunteers shaken and upset and has affected me emotionally as well.

I have no idea what would make someone target their local adult and children’s hospice in this way, I can only imagine that they felt it was their last resort, but stealing is never the answer.

What hurts me most is that the money lost is vital for us to continue our work which is why it is so heart breaking that someone felt the need to steal it.

We feel so deeply saddened that this has happened as the people who donate their unwanted items to us do so on the basis they are helping us to raise as much money as we possibly can to care for and support local families. We work so hard every day to make sure that we do that, it’s a devastating blow.

But it’s not just the financial impact of these burglaries that hurts, it’s the emotional impact as well. Our staff and volunteers are like a family and treat the shop as if it were a home. To them this honestly feels like someone has broken into their own homes.

After each of the break-ins we have improved our security measures as much as possible, but sadly this hasn’t stopped those determined to get in.

The majority of the hospice’s 32 charity shops across Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes have metal shutters but these cost a lot of money and as a local charity installing them is not something which is easy for us to do.

We think for the shops affected it could cost us thousands of pounds to install metal shutters, money that should be spent ensuring adults and children facing a terminal or life-limiting illness in our community receive the excellent care and support they deserve.

Every year we rely on our community and supporters to help raise 70 per cent of the £5.7 million we need every year to care for adults in Luton and Bedfordshire and children in Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Milton Keynes with terminal and life-limiting illnesses. I’d just like to finish by thanking all those people who continue to support us to make our care possible.

Angela Burgess, Head of Retail at Keech Hospice Care – 17/07/2018

If you would like to support us and our shops please click the button below to donate. Thank you.

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We have also created an appeal page so you can show your support for your local hospice.