Support for Whitehead children's unit after oil theft

Whitehaven Respite Unit (image Google).
Whitehaven Respite Unit (image Google).

A Whitehead children's centre has been overwhelmed by public support after it was targeted by heartless thieves.

Around 1500 litres of home heating oil was stolen from Whitehaven Respite Unit on Edward Road over the new year period.

Operated by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust, Whitehaven provides short breaks for children and young people with disabilities.

With staff unable to heat the building, five children had to be sent home, missing out on their respite break.

The theft caused outrage among the local community, with many taking to social media to vent their anger at the "despicable" behaviour of the thieves.

However, the incident has also seen a generous response from the public, with many people offering donations to cover the cost of the stolen fuel.

OFTEC, which represents the domestic oil heating and cooking industry in Northern Ireland, also offered 1,000 litres of oil to the unit.

Linda Guthrie, deputy team leader at Whitehaven said: "We have always been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the local community.

"As we're a Trust facility, we did have the oil replaced and were up and running the following day. However we do have a charitable fund which people are very welcome to donate to - anything that makes it a better place for the children would be great."

Projects supported by the fund include Whitehaven's recently installed multi-sensory room. "Play equipment for children with disabilities is so much more expensive than the toys you would normally get in shops," Linda said. "We'd like to have more interactive and specialised equipment for the kids."

Meanwhile, local artist Steve Diamond outlined plans to paint a new mural around the unit's play area in the coming months.

Anyone who is interested in making a donation to Whitehaven's charity fund should contact the unit on 028 9335 3367.