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Life-saving mental health crisis car break-in 'soul destroying'

PUBLISHED: 16:25 22 August 2018 | UPDATED: 16:40 22 August 2018

Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing CEO Luke Woodley. PHOTO: Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing

Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing CEO Luke Woodley. PHOTO: Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing

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The founder of a mental health organisation has accused thieves who stole £800 worth of medical and rescue equipment of hurting the most vulnerable people in the community.

The support cars provided by Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing. Photo: Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing.The support cars provided by Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing. Photo: Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing.

It comes after one of Walnut Tree Health and Wellbeing’s mental health response cars was broken into in Lowestoft while its crew were helping someone suffering from suicidal thoughts.

The car, which had its passenger window smashed in, one of its locks forced open and damage to the boot, had a medical kit worth £400, alongside folding shovels, torches, and rolling ladders stolen, which is estimated to cost £1,200 to replace.

Luke Woodley, who founded the community interest company and is chief executive, said the cars have saved 21 lives since their launch in October 2016 and that Wednesday’s break-in was a major setback.

“It is absolutely soul-destroying,” he said. “It is senseless, it is a service that is there to protect the most vulnerable in our community.

“It is being hampered by those most reckless in our community and it is very distressing.”

Mr Woodley added one of the cars was already off the road with a mechanical problem, meaning the organisation will now be forced to only offer half a service until money is raised to repair the car and replace the kit.

He said: “Every penny that goes to replacing kit and repairs is away from services that people need.

“These are people who are acutely unwell, people with PTSD, psychotic depression and schizophrenia, they are people who become very depressed and attempt to take their own life.”

He added: “The crew are deeply upset because people give up their time. They are passionate about making a difference in their community.

“They do this to because they are so passionate about it and they see this as utterly devastating and beyond comprehension.”

The incident happened at around 3am in the early hours of Wednesday morning in north Lowestoft.

A spokesman for Suffolk Police said: “A car was broken into at around 3.30am. A first aid bag and other items including hard hats and torches were stolen.

“Anyone with information should call 101 and quote CAD reference 128 of August 22.”

You can donate to the group by visiting https://www.walnuttreehealthandwellbeing.co.uk/donate/

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