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'You stole from us all': Heartless theives steal cash from Woodford Green children's hospice's store in Romford

PUBLISHED: 17:00 23 August 2019

Lee Semain was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court for breaking into The Haven House Children’'s Hospice store in South Street, Romford. Picture: Haven House

Lee Semain was sentenced at Snaresbrook Crown Court for breaking into The Haven House Children''s Hospice store in South Street, Romford. Picture: Haven House

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A Woodford Green hospice has suffered a "devastating blow" after thieves stole cash and damaged property at its Romford charity store.

The Haven House Children's Hospice in Woodford Green.The Haven House Children's Hospice in Woodford Green.

The Haven House Children's Hospice store in South Street, which raises money for seriously ill children, was broken into on Sunday, August 18 during the early hours.

Although takings are banked daily and not kept in the shop, the thieves damaged the hospice's property and made away with a small amount of cash.

The shop was forced to close for a day and a half so the premises could be made safe again.

This resulted in a loss of earnings for the hospice which is based in High Road, Woodford Green.

The Haven House Children's Hospice in Woodford Green.The Haven House Children's Hospice in Woodford Green.

Mike Palfreman, Haven House chief executive, said: "Our shops are an essential part of the hospice's fundraising operation, enabling us to continue to care for children and young people with life-limiting illnesses when they need us the most.

"This incident has shocked our staff and volunteers, who are upset to see their shop targeted in this way.

"However, it is our children and families who will lose out the most, as the money raised by our shops goes towards paying for their care.

"We are so saddened by this event."

Haven House provides day care and over-night stays, end of life care, bereavement support, sensory play, music therapy and physiotherapy.

Through various outreach services staff members also work with people in surrounding areas such as Havering.

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The hospice, which cares for around 400 children a year and is reliant on the support of the public, has described its impact in an open letter to the perpetrators:

"An open letter to the thieves that stole from us all

"We have no idea what would make you target your local children's hospice in this way, we can only imagine that you felt it was your last resort.

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

"We would like you to know that when you damaged and stole from our shop, you not only stole from us and the children and the families that we support, but from the local community too.

"No family should have to face alone the difficulties of looking after a child with a serious illness.

"We are a lifeline for families supporting them through their child's illness during the toughest of times.

"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 help local families. We work so hard every day to make sure that we do that, so it's a devastating blow.

"It's not just the financial impact of the break-in that hurts, it's the emotional impact as well.

"Our staff and volunteers are so proud of their shop with many giving up their time to support the hospice and ensure the shop is open.

"To them this feels like someone has broken into their own homes.

"We rely on our supporters to help raise 80 per cent of the £4.4million we need every year to care for children in West Essex and the surrounding boroughs with life-limiting illnesses.

"We'd like to thank all those people who have taken Haven House into their hearts and continue to support us to make our care possible."

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