Milton Keynes charity struggling for hope after being repeatedly hit by thieves

A cancer charity, set up by a woman who suffered from the disease herself, is struggling to continue after being repeatedly targeted by "callous" thieves.

Jo's Hope, based in Bletchley, Milton Keynes, was first hit by burglars in July 2023, when they stole money, electronics and computers.

Even raffle prizes for a family fundraising day were taken.

Now, in the space of just four weeks, they've been hit twice by vandals who have taken fuel and smashed up vans they use for making food deliveries.

Jo Tomkin set up the charity she being treated for breast cancer herself. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"I'm devastated" said founder Jo Tomkin. "We work tirelessly because we don't get grants, we don't get funding, we work hard and we self-fund - I even sold my car to keep us going during Covid.

"No one's paid here. No one gets anything from what we do here except self-satisfaction and gratification from helping other people.

"And then you turn up to work and this is what you're greeted with and it's a massive kick in the teeth. It is just callous."

Jo's Hope started five years ago, initially to help those recovering from breast cancer but it now helps hundreds of vulnerable people a month, providing food, clothing and other supplies at low prices, as well as helping ex-offenders into work.

It is completely reliant on the public's generosity to keep going and volunteers fear the break-in's are pushing them to the edge.

The charity also helps ex-offenders "break the cycle" by finding employment. Credit: ITV News Anglia

"We are running out of options to keep going" volunteer Hannah Hilton said.

"We are just trying to get through March at the moment. It means we have to let a lot of our service users down."

Ms Tomkin added: "We are just not turning over enough at the moment to keep going.

"Yes I have insurance but then my insurance premiums go up and how do I afford to pay my insurance? These things have all go a knock on effect."

She is hoping the public will provide some hope for Jo's Hope.

"The community hopefully will help us and support us to get through it."

A Thames Valley Police spokesperson said “Sometime between 4pm on Monday (18/3) and 10.30am on Tuesday March 19, three men in balaclavas got out of a vehicle.

“Two of them approached a Ford Transit van and gained entry.

"Nothing was stolen but the van was left unusable as the ignition barrel and locks were drilled out.

“Anyone with information should call 101 or make a report on our website, quoting reference number 43240127432."

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