Thieves have destroyed a place of ‘sanctuary’ for Sheffield’s street drinkers – by stealing metal pipes which flooded their building for a fortnight.
Offenders broke into the building which houses Ben’s Centre on Orange Street in Sheffield city centre and ripped out pipework on the floor above – causing water to flood the property.
The water brought down ceilings, destroyed electrical equipment, and damaged items and equipment including clothing stored at the centre to help the city’s street drinkers – many of whom are homeless.
Staff and volunteers, who are due to begin a major clean-up operation today, fear it could take them months before the centre is up and running as normal.
Ben’s Centre offers free breakfasts and lunches four days a week, and provides clothing, healthcare opportunities and a roof over the heads of those who might otherwise end up roaming the streets looking for a way to buy their next drink.
A police investigation into the theft of the pipework is under way.
Centre manager Sue Smith said: “The pipes were ripped out some time between Christmas Eve and January 4, meaning the water could have been running all that time.
“But those who did this would not have thought about the consequences of their actions, I suppose.
“For just a few pounds, which they would have got for selling the pipes, they have caused all this devastation – affecting some of the most vulnerable members of society.
“But we remain determined to try to offer whatever services we can to our clients, because many rely on us and their welfare is our priority.”