Theft from charity leaves Alfie and Logan’s garden makeover half finished

Posted on the 3rd October 2018

A WellChild van was broken into overnight and thousands of pounds of equipment stolen. Our team were half way through a two day Helping Hands Garden Makeover project in Essex. Together with volunteers from the legal firm Kingsley Napley, WellChild Helping Hands team planned to give Alfie and Logan a garden where they can play safely and gain some independence. Alfie, six and Logan, four, have autism. This affects their behaviour, learning ability, communication and awareness of danger.

This has a profound impact on day to day life for the whole family. The new garden would have given the boys plenty of space to play and provided safe access to give them more freedom to spend time outdoors.

But the two day project due to take place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week came to an abrupt halt when our van was broken into on Tuesday night while parked at a local hotel. The items stolen from the van, including power tools and other equipment used in the makeover, are estimated to be worth thousands of pounds. Among the items taken were drills, a mitre saw, circular saw and jigsaw, a concrete breaker, power tool batteries and a transformer. The theft has been reported to the police.

Head of WellChild Helping Hands Lorna Pedersen said the project was roughly half way through at the close of the first day but, because of the theft and the disruption it caused, it will not be possible to finish it straight away. Instead the garden has been made safe and WellChild and a team of volunteers will be back to finish it as soon as possible, hopefully before the end of the month.

“It is a terrible shame for the family and the boys,” said Lorna. “They were really looking forward to having a garden which was suitable for their needs and where the boys can safely play. We have a long waiting list for Helping Hands projects because there is such demand so the family were delighted we were able to start work.

This theft has affected this family and will also have an impact on WellChild’s work and funding for other Helping Hands projects we have coming up, each one of those helps a seriously ill child and their family. We can promise that we will be back in Loughton to complete the job for Alfie, Logan and their family. We will not leave the garden half finished and we will be back with a team of volunteers as soon as we can.

Lorna Pedersen, Head of Helping Hands

The plan for the garden was to put in a climbing ramp to help protect the boys from the drop off a retaining wall, then level the raised garden area and install artificial grass. Finally volunteers were to create a swing area with safety mats over the existing concrete surface and walls creating a space that will give both boys the chance to explore outdoors, increase access to play and help them gain greater independence.

Logan is non-verbal and Alfie has limited speech and struggles to communicate. Both brothers have many challenging behaviours such as eating inedible objects. The boy’s parents must watch them every minute. The family moved in to their new home so that both boys would have their own bedroom but need help to make the garden useable and safe.

While we begin the process of re-tooling, Alfie, Logan and their family have been left with an unfinished garden. We will go back and finish their garden as soon as possible.

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