The community and council have rallied round a mental health charity after thieves stole equipment.

Community Options, based in Fielding Lane, Bromley, were left empty handed after criminals swiped hundreds of pounds worth of gardening equipment.

The charity helps people suffering from mental health issues integrate into the community by encouraging them to volunteer their gardening services in Bromley.

The opportunistic crime happened on December 1 in Crystal Park Road, after volunteers from the charity's Branching Out team were busy drinking a cuppa.

A hedge strimmer and petrol trimmer were taken out the back of their van, leaving the team without their most vital equipment.

However, after news of the theft reached the local community, Bromley Councillor Angela Wilkins contacted Councillor Graham Arthur, portfolio holder for the Bromley Community Fund.

Davina Sellick, communications officer for the charity, said: "I shared it [the story] on a Facebook page, and it got shared on one of the community groups.

"A Crystal Palace councillor expressed her horror that such a crime had taken place, and responded within hours to say she was appalled to hear what happened, and she was trying to secure funding to replace some of our equipment.”

Coupled with the extra donations from the public, the team are back on track.

She added: "We also had a donation from the public and a lady who’s offered to donate all her gardening equipment - and I believe she's got a new hedge trimmer!

"We are truly delighted that such an unfortunate series of events has had such a positive outcome. "The volunteers at Branching Out are feeling upbeat and positive about the future thanks to the generosity and messages of support from people in the community.

"Alls well that ends well - the power of the written word."

Labour Cllr Angela Wilkins, who represents Crystal Palace, said: "I just thought what a shame. Any theft is bad but theft from a group such as this is particularly appalling.

"They're a charity based in Bromley, working for Bromley people, if the council could help in any way to put the equipment back that's what we should do.

"I think it's important that people pull together. It's Christmas, these things are bad at any time but it’s even worse at this time."

She said they were looking to donate funds of nearly £1,000.

She added: "Thank-you to the News Shopper - we wouldn't know about these things otherwise."

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