The “vicious” vandalism of a cancer support centre in the Highlands – forcing it to close for a number of days – has been described as “sickening” by staff.
Maggie’s Highlands on Old Perth Road, Inverness, had its doors and windows smashed in the early hours of Sunday morning, just weeks after it had started welcoming people to the centre again after shutting down throughout lockdown.
The destruction is the latest blow for the charity, which lost £240,000 in fundraising income due to cancellation of events during the country-wide shutdown, as it now faces a significant clean-up operation.
Andrew Benjamin, centre fundraising manager, said: “It’s absolutely horrendous. Everything we have all been through in terms of Covid-19 and the shutdown, we get back on our feet and this goes and happens. It’s sickening.”
Mr Benjamin received a call about the incident around 7.30am on Sunday, before seeing the extent of the damage.
He added: “People living with cancer need Maggie’s more than anything.
“We’ve been helping people through lockdown over the phone and online but people want that social interaction and we worked hard to get the centre in a safe position. Now we have to shut down again.”
Maggie’s has been in the Highlands for 15 years, having celebrated its birthday in June.
It provides practical, social and emotional support to people living with cancer, as well as to their family and friends.
The centre will now close for at least two to three days, as repairs are carried out and a deep clean completed.
However, it will continue to offer support via the phone and online.
Mr Benjamin added: “There are fragments of glass everywhere. We don’t know who has been in contact so we have to do a deep clean.
“We have just dusted ourselves down and to have something like this happen that could been avoided, it’s just mindless and it’s people living with cancer that have been affected.
“The centre is like a home to a lot of people. To have it broken into and see it in such a mess, with glass on the floor. They used a rock or boulder to get through the window. It’s horrific.”
More than £5000 has been raised by the community in response to the weekend’s events.
“The support in the community has been incredible,” Mr Benjamin said.
“We know we live in a caring community but when something like this happens you just see that.”
Police received a report of the vandalism around 3.10am on Sunday and confirmed an investigation is ongoing.
Constable Cameron Ross said: “Damage has been caused by this senseless and selfish act which will sadly have an impact on the services and support offered at the centre.”
Maggie’s Highlands’ fundraising page can be visited here. Anyone who has information relating to the vandalism or saw suspicious activity should contact police on 101.