An Age UK Croydon office has suffered an estimated £30,000 worth of damage as rioters looted IT equipment and damaged office equipment, while an Age UK staff member was trapped inside.
The charity is one of many to have suffered damage to its building or shops as a result of escalating violence in London last night.
Stuart Routledge, chief executive of Age UK Croydon told civilsociety.co.uk that it was “shocking” that anyone would want to attack a charity:
“Our offices have a huge logo and brand clearly outside. We have been here since 1995. They have come into the office and stolen PCs and screens; and trashed other parts. It’s wanton destruction,” he said.
“One member of staff came in after she got a call about a window broken by a tenant and decided to come and check. She was stuck in the office for nearly two hours as people rampaged outside.
“We couldn’t get the police to her so we guided her out and comforted her via phone as she made her way home through the back streets.”
The office, which employs 60 people, was attacked twice late last evening, said Routledge.
“There is quite a lot of glazed frontage outside the office which has been destroyed,” he said.” I estimate the total damage will be worth between £25,000 and £30,000.”
Routledge said the charity would still strive to maintain services for elderly people in the area: “There are older people here without power or electricity as a result of the fires last night. I’m very saddened.”
Many charities affected by riots in London
Elsewhere, a charity shop for a cat rescue centre based in Enfield was looted and damaged on Sunday night. Its manager Paula Warnes said she knew £200 worth of gold jewellery had been taken, but was not sure if anything else was missing:
“They smashed in the door and took jewellery, but I’m not sure if anything else was taken. It’s very difficult to tell in a charity shop as there are so many things around.”
She said the shop - the Scratching Post - had been closed since Monday and she was planning to wait till police arrived to clear up the shop and open again. As no police had yet arrived she had decided to start the clean-up process. “We’d been informed that the police were coming here at 9.30am but no-one has come,” she said. “With what the police have got to deal with in Enfield and Tottenham we’re probably bottom of the list right now.”
“We will be opening tomorrow,” she said. “We’ve lost two day’s money because we can’t open – it’s mindless.”
Further some business which have been affected by the riots had close ties with the charity sector. Party Superstore in Clapham Junction was razed to the ground last night.
Much of its profit went to charity Street Kids Rescue, a charity set up by Party Superstore’s managing director Duncan Mundell to help orphans, abandoned and sick children in Burma and South East Asia. Also charities received a 20 per cent discount at the store.
Charity offices and shops have also been forced to close as a result of violent disturbances in the vicinity. Croydon Voluntary Action, which house a number of voluntary organisations, has advised staff that they cannot access the building.
While, welfare-to-work charity, the Careers Development Group, had to close its office in Brixton, after the Foot Locker store below it was set on fire Sunday night.
Career Development Group is the prime contractor which is a charity on the government’s welfare-to-work programme.