Sunderland charity SAPS 'devastated' after suspected arson attack destroys building

Supporters of a charity on Wearside are "picking up the pieces" after a suspected arson attack destroyed one of its buildings and items inside.

Sunderland Area Parent Support, who are also known as SAPS, offer a range of services to vulnerable families and say those in need will suffer "greatly" as a result.

Northumbria Police said they were made aware of a suspected arson attack at a building on Silksworth Gardens, in Sunderland, shortly after 3am on Thursday 16 February. Emergency services attended and the fire was extinguished. No-one was found to have been injured.

In a separate incident, officers were also called to a report of a suspected burglary which took place at a building on Silksworth Gardens in Sunderland sometime overnight on Monday 13 February, into the morning of Tuesday 14 February.

A charity donation box and radiators were reported to have been stolen.

The force said inquiries are ongoing.

In a statement on their Facebook page, the charity said: "We are totally heartbroken, why someone would want to do this is beyond us.

"This building is used for therapies for some of our most vulnerable clients and to store food and emergency parcels to distribute to people in need. We have lost computer equipment, baby supplies, clothes, blankets, toiletries and toys."

The building was destroyed by fire Credit: SAPS / Facebook

Jacki Hudson, a volunteer at SAPS said: "I was absolutely devastated. Shocked to think that somebody could do this to a charity organisation that offers so much to the community. It's a massive blow and I do think it's probably going to have a lasting impact."

The affected building housed a therapy room and, say supporters, contained food and clothing parcels destined for local families.

Stacey Brickle, who was a service user before becoming a volunteer with the charity, said: "We are trying to fundraise as much as possible at the moment. Paramount is the therapy room because it gives people so much and then get the food donations back up and running so we can supply that food bank because believe it or not, people do rely on it, especially in these testing times."

The charity continues to fundraise in the hope to rebuild "bigger and better" for the people of Sunderland.

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