Vandals force shop closure

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Volunteers at a suicide support centre say they are “sick to the stomach” after a break-in left their charity shop 
without power.

The centre, on Bond Street, in Blackpool, which also helps to fund funerals of people who have committed suicide, was targeted in the early hours of last Wednesday.

Amanda Williamson, 46, who set up the REST (Remembering Every Suicide Trauma) charity after her 24-year-old son Gary took his own life two years ago, said the culprits were “scum”.

Amanda has lost five other loved ones through suicide - her husband Gary, her nephew, her brother-in-law and two friends.

She said someone broke into the shop and disabled the building’s CCTV cameras by damaging an electricity 

There was a small fire but nothing was taken.

Amanda said: “I’m sick to my stomach. It’s such a shock.

“We’re trying to help people and then you get idiots that think they can just come in here and trash the place.

“I don’t know why they did this. It’s a senseless act.”

The charity shop is now without power and electrical engineers have told Amanda that it will take at least two weeks to get the supply up and running again.

Amanda said the charity had been giving support to a woman from Blackpool who recently lost her young son to suicide.

She explained that the charity was helping with 
funeral costs and guidance.

She said: “We won’t be able to help her as much now because we have no premises.

“The mother is in a 
terrible state.

“We’ll have no way of raising funds as the shop is closed.

“All of the money we raise goes to help the families of people who have committed suicide.

“Sometimes people just pop into the shop to talk about suicidal feelings or if they have lost someone.

“That service won’t be available any more.”

The charity was set up to help those who find it hard to cover funeral costs after Amanda almost lost everything when she tried to raise funds to bury her son.

She said: “If you haven’t got anything to sell it’s very hard. A lot of people in Blackpool just don’t have the money.

“We have also been helping someone who has recently lost his wife.

“He tried to come into the shop the other and day and he was heartbroken when he heard what had happened.”

She added: “I hope whoever did this is in pain, but it will never hurt as much as losing someone to suicide.

“It’s worse at times like Easter when you feel that the person you’ve lost should be there.”

The centre was planning to give out Easter eggs to families of people affected by suicide.

Amanda is now donating the eggs to The Gazette’s Hospice Heroes appeal for patients at Trinity Hospice and Brian House Children’s 

A spokesman from Lancashire Police, said: “An officer attended the scene at 3.30pm on April 16.

“An investigation into what happened is now underway.”

The centre had also been running a children’s photo competition to raise funds.

The competition has now had to be shelved due to the closure.