Vandals leave trail of destruction at a Harborough allotment used by vulnerable people with learning disabilities

The offenders are thought to have gone on a drinking spree in the town over the Easter weekend before wreaking damage running into hundreds of pounds

Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:29 pm
Updated Wednesday, 7th April 2021, 4:30 pm

Vandals have left a shocking trail of destruction at a much-loved Market Harborough allotment used by vulnerable people with learning disabilities.

The offenders are thought to have gone on a drinking spree at the precious outdoors space in the town over the Easter weekend before wreaking damage running into hundreds of pounds.

The offenders smashed up tables and chairs before breaking into a shed and wrecking first aid boxes as well as other valuable equipment at the site on Stevens Street, off Logan Street.

Vandals have left a shocking trail of destruction at a much-loved Market Harborough allotment used by vulnerable people with learning disabilities.

They are now being hunted by police.

Marie Norman has been using the allotment for nine years after setting up Freedom Support, which gets behind people with learning disabilities and mental health issues, in Market Harborough in 2011.

“This shocking attack on the allotment is absolutely devastating.

“The people who did this are sick,” Marie told the Harborough Mail.

“I just hope that they are caught by the police and properly dealt with.

“This is the second time in just four months that we’ve been targeted – and I can’t believe it’s happened again so quickly.

“It’s sickening.”

She said her 50 or so clients who go to the allotment regularly – sometimes two or three times a week – are being forced to stay away following the incident.

“I haven’t even had the heart to tell them yet.

“They are vulnerable people of all ages ranging from 18 or even younger all the way up to 60 or 70.

“They all love going to the Stevens Street allotment and they’ll be very upset by this,” said Marie.

“The vandals who did this also smashed up glass bottles and scattered shattered glass over the place – it’s outrageous.

“So it’s obviously far too dangerous to visit until we manage to get the area properly cleaned up.

“Our shed that my husband made was secure – but they broke into that and wrecked our first aid boxes.

“Why do people carry out this sort of devastating damage?

“What is going on inside their heads – and what do they get out of it?

“Most people know that this allotment is used by people with learning disabilities and people struggling with their mental health.

“It’s been a priceless outdoors space in the fresh air that we’ve been able to use for some of our clients throughout this Covid pandemic.

“Other clients have been shielding in isolation and were really looking forward to going up the allotment for the first time in ages,” said Marie, the director and owner of Lathkill Street-based Freedom Support.

“It’s extremely disappointing to say the least.

“We work alongside the county council’s education department with our clients growing some fantastic veg there.

“People love going there to see each other, have a chat and catch up over a cuppa while tending their flowers, plant and veg.

“They can be up there all day in the summer and even take a picnic to tuck into and enjoy.

“We do have CCTV cameras at the site but they weren’t working properly.

“This is so hard to take yet again coming after the attack just before Christmas.

“This allotment’s become a huge success story over the years.

“But we are going to have to get it cleaned up and replace the first aid kits and other equipment destroyed before we can start to use it again.”

If you would like to make a financial donation to help fund essential repairs and new kit or help to clean up the seriously-damaged allotment please email Marie at [email protected]

John Feavyour, chairman of Market Harborough and the Bowdens Charity, which owns the allotment site, said they are very “disappointed” by the incident.

He said they take security very seriously and are constantly seeking to improve it.

If you have any information about the attack you can call Leicestershire Police on 101 quoting crime number 21000 180 894.

You can find out more about Marie’s training academy Freedom Support here: https://freedomsupport.co.uk/