Brickmakers’ Wood project in Ipswich says vandals and burglars will not stop its work

Brickmakers Wood in Ipswich, which runs skills projects for young people with learning difficulties,

Brickmakers Wood in Ipswich, which runs skills projects for young people with learning difficulties, and provides a calm atmosphere for terminally ill people has been broken into. Rob Brooks next to some of the damage. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Founders of a community charity in Ipswich have said a pair of crimes to strike the project in the last two weeks will not stop its good work.

Brickmakers Wood in Ipswich, which runs skills projects for young people with learning difficulties,

Brickmakers Wood in Ipswich, which runs skills projects for young people with learning difficulties, and provides a calm atmosphere for terminally ill people has been broken into. Rob Brooks next to some of the damage. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The Eden-Rose Coppice Trust operates the Brickmakers’ Wood site off Back Hamlet, which is being regenerated and provides a tranquil space for cancer patients and teaches life skills to those with learning difficulties.

But project founders Jo Brooks and father Rob arrived on Monday morning to find the windows smashed and more than £1,500-worth of tools stolen.

The break-in follows a prior vandalism the week before where drug users had damaged the outdoor toilet, strewn toilet paper across the woodland and stole various items.

Jo Brooks, 37, said: “We went in and all the windows were smashed, there was glass everywhere and about £1,500 of things had been stolen, which is such a shame.

“That’s money we could have spent on our vulnerable people who visit – that is what is really upsetting.

“It’s day after day and it’s very sad, but it does spur us on to make the wood a more and more beautiful place.”

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During the first vandalism, the pair were forced to cancel some of their sessions for children from pupil referral units.

The trust has moved its materials and remaining tools to another location, but is now facing a fundraising drive to raise £7,000 for security measures to keep the site safe.

But despite the setback, Jo and Rob say they will continue their work at the wood.

“At the moment we are trying to raise £7,000 for increasing our security, and we are putting forward an appeal for that.

“When you see the smiles on the faces of the children when they have lit their first fire or made their first shelter – these skills they are learning for life – we know we will not get drawn down by the horrible people,” Jo said.

“Although there are these horrible people out there, there are 10 times more people that want to do good.”

A Suffolk police spokeswoman confirmed the force was investigating the incidents.

Anyone who witnessed the break-in or has any information should call police on 101 quoting CAD 99 of July 3.

To donate to the trust’s security fund, visit the fundraising page here.

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