A temporary food bank which was set up in response to the coronavirus pandemic has been broken into and raided by thieves.
Organisers of the service, based at St Michael’s Church in Middleton, arrived on Monday morning to find smashed windows and missing donations.
The food bank was set up in March after the death of a church choir member and has helped hundreds of struggling families since.
Neil McClure, who helps run the facility, told the M.E.N that a number of toiletries and baby products were stolen, as well as tins of food and children’s toys.
The break-in has been reported to Greater Manchester Police.
“Back in March a member of the church choir died from Covid-19 and the family asked for acts of kindness so we set up a temporary food bank to support vulnerable families,” Neil said.
“It has carried on from there really. We support families that can’t afford food, or people who are having to self-isolate and can’t get to the shop.”
The food bank relies on public donations collected via a roaming donation box that goes around Middleton before being brought to the church.
“Between Sunday afternoon and Monday morning – we assume overnight – the little scout hut we use was broken into,” Neil said.
“My mate went down to discuss some outside lighting with an electrician when he saw what had happened. They had smashed a window and then unlocked he fire door to get everything out.
“In the lead up to Christmas we have seen an increase in donations so there was a lot taken. It was mainly toiletries and nappies but also quite a few tins of beans and peas and that sort of thing.”
He added: “I don’t know if they did it to sell on because they had a family to feed but I wish they’d just asked for help because we would have given them a bag of food to last the week.
“I know a lot of people are embarrassed to ask for help at the moment but they shouldn’t be.”
The donation service had also been collecting new Christmas toys to distribute to Middleton food bank and the Wood Street Mission. Some of these toys were stolen too.
Neil said the main thing the bank is now short of is toiletries and baby products, and encouraged people to donate Christmas toys if they can.
“The generosity of people generally has been amazing,” he said.
“There are more good people out there doing good things than there are bad people. You don’t get to hear about these people who donate the gifts and the food.
“This hasn’t dampened by spirits – the world isn’t doomed yet.”