Burglary of a catering service feeding the needy in Stockton

A service providing food in Stockton to the homeless/needy was sadly broken into and broken into last month.

Project Must Eat, based on Yarm Lane in Stockton, provides hot and cold food to those in need.

Steve and Karen Lea, who run the community benefit society, charge 20 pence for a meal or accept donations.

35-40 people accessed this service daily, and Steve and Karen were pleased with the positive impact it was having on those who needed it most.

Unfortunately on Sunday 12th June the store was robbed and around £200 was stolen from the till.

Project Must Eat is located on Yarm Lane in Stockton. Photo: SARAH CALDECOTT

Read more: Woman injured in crash as driver leaves scene without giving information

The Northern Echo: The window was smashed from the outside.  Photo: KAREN LEAThe window was smashed from the outside. Photo: KAREN LEA

Steve said: “Unfortunately I think it’s likely that it was one of the people we look after who did this, talking about biting the hand that feeds you.

“If they were to come forward and tell the truth and say they need help, we wouldn’t report them to the police. We are here to help you and that is what we want to do.

“When we walked in on Monday morning, to say there was glass everywhere would be an understatement. It was absolutely everywhere. They (the person in charge) had broken the window with a fire extinguisher and the window was right over the sink so there was a lot of glass in the sink.

“It’s frustrating and sad because we’ve put so much work into this. The donations we receive allow us to continue to provide food.

The Northern Echo: A fire extinguisher was used to break the window.  Photo: KAREN LEAA fire extinguisher was used to break the glass. Photo: KAREN LEA

The Northern Echo: The floor and the sink were covered in glass.  Photo: KAREN LEAThe floor and the sink were covered in glass. Photo: KAREN LEA

Read more: Boy, 16, missing from Redcar for five days – have you seen Alfie?

Steve and Karen started the project in December last year and were both happy to provide non-judgmental help to people in need.

Steve said: ‘We have now had to reduce our opening hours to one hour per day between 2 and 3 p.m. via a serving hatch.

A notice on the shop door reads: “We are sorry to say that due to the burglary last Sunday (June 12), some sponsors have stopped funding our brilliant service. Free food and drink will only be served between 2pm and 3pm at 16 Yarm Lane, Stockton, until further notice. Useful numbers and contacts of useful organizations for people in crisis will be displayed for you. We hope to resume full service as soon as possible. Sincerely, the management.”

The investigation is ongoing.

Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website or follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

You can also follow our dedicated Teesside Facebook page for all the latest news in the area by clicking here.

For all the top news from across the region straight to your inbox, sign up for our newsletter here.

Do you have a story for us? Contact our press office on [email protected] or contact 01325 505054