THIEVES and vandals are putting jobs at the Rainbow Child and Family Centre in Bracken Park at risk says manager Jacki Connolly.
The centre looks after over 60 children through its playgroup and after schools club.
“We have had our heating oil stolen twice recently,” said Jacki. “The place is constantly vandalised and in recent months a member of staff had to be laid off. If the vandals and thieves continue on with this it will almost certainly result in people losing their jobs.”
Jacki explained that the most recent oil theft resulted in oil leaking out over a purpose built surface designed for young children to play safely.
“We got a tree house from Children in Need and it hadn’t been in a week and it was vandalised. The last time the oil was stolen the oil leaked over the play area - it cost us thousands of pounds to clear up.
“It’s tough enough for a community service like this one to function at the best of times but when it’s subject to relentless theft and vandalism our job is made 100 times more difficult.”
Jacki said that the ongoing trouble at the centre has left her and her staff in tears and said that as a result of theft and vandalism young children are being made to suffer.
“I’ve been left in tears wondering how we are going to cope,” she said. “The centre is for the community and it’s by the community. I would appeal to whoever is carrying out these attacks to stop immediately. Little children are being forced to come to a place where broken bottles can be found all over the place, lights have been smashed, our fences have been stolen and when the oil is stolen there is no heating. It’s just not on.”
Local Sinn Fein councillor for the area Elisha McCallion sits on centre’s board of directors. She condemned the incidents and said that those responsible should stop.
“I think that those responsible should take a long hard look at themselves. This type of action serves no one. They are really destroying a vital service which many families in this community depend upon.”