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  1. ITV Report

Gloucester charity centre burgled twice in two weeks

Thousands of pounds worth of equipment has been stolen after a Gloucester community centre was broken into twice in two weeks.

GL Communities, which runs an advice and resource centre in Matson, was first burgled on January 3 and then again on January 11.

Both incidents are currently being investigated by Gloucestershire Constabulary but staff and volunteers at the centre - which helps people in times of crisis - say they are shocked by what has happened.

The minute you walk into the advice and resource centre at Matson, you are among friends.

But when I visited, the smiles quickly turned into sighs and head-shaking as manager Sue Cunningham showed me the damage caused by burglars who broke in twice in two weeks.

"They broke in through the fire door, and in the second burglary, they got in through this window by smashing through the shutters,” she explained.

But it is not just the damage they caused - it is what they stole that really gets Sue started.

A total of thirteen laptops - all paid for by the donations and grants that the centre relies upon to stay open - were taken.

The GL Communities advice and resource centre in Matson, Gloucester Credit: ITV News West Country

"You have a team of volunteers here, and if they haven't got the tools, what are they supposed to do?" Sue asked.

One of those volunteers is Sheena Scarrott. She is more forthright in her assessment of the damage.

"I can't repeat what I would like to say about the break-ins,” she said. “We are here to help people. It's just not right."

Sheena goes on to show me around the little community shop she looks after.

How the thieves broke into the centre Credit: ITV News West Country

It is packed with donated clothing.

"This top is only two pounds!" She said, holding up a little polka dot number.

"The customers have got virtually nothing. You can't charge a lot for stuff.”

Sheena knows how desperate some of the people who come to the centre are.

They may have problems with getting their benefits sorted, or with Universal Credit. Eyes roll to the ceiling when I mention this.

I've seen people crying, shaking, they don't know what to do

– Sheena, volunteer

What is so sad for everyone here is that it was almost certainly someone from the community - the people who rely upon the centre - that broke in.

"They must have been in one of the interview rooms before, as they knew what they were looking for and seemed to know the layout,” Sue revealed.

Sue Cunningham, manager at GL Communities Credit: ITV News West Country

But it won't stop them. Everyone I speak to is determined to go on.

Welfare and benefits advisor Siew Pheng-McClean summed up why: “Many people coming here have some sort of physical or mental disability.

“They are really struggling. They are emotionally vulnerable."