A LIFELINE charity in East Kilbride for victims of child sex abuse is battling to survive following a devastating break-in.
SAVI Kids (Sexual Assault Victims Initiative) was forced to suspend its vital services following the brazen raid towards the end of last year which saw its town centre base ransacked and office equipment destroyed – all for just £38 in stolen cash.
For the last eight years, the specialist support service – the only one of its kind in Scotland – has helped thousands of vulnerable children and their families.
The charity was available 24/7 with its own dedicated helpline.
But due to a lack of funding, the helpline was no longer feasible and SAVI Kids is now struggling to stay open.
Heartbroken chairwoman Annmarie Campbell was reduced to tears as she appealed for help to “rebuild” her charity.
She said: “We were supposed to relaunch last year as a wellbeing centre offering Tai-chi and stress relief activities for a small donation to fund the services we offer to the children but that was all scrapped when this happened.
“We just need some help to get up and running again and start this new service.”
Annmarie told how, under the cover of darkness, a heartless thief gained entry by climbing onto the roof of Strathmore House from a car park fire escape.
After trying a few office windows, he managed to force one open at SAVI Kids.
Irreparable damage was caused to office computers, locked filing cabinets, cash boxes and soft furnishings.
The lone male perpetrator was caught on CCTV entering the back court car park – but Annmarie claimed police were unable to identify him from the footage.
The culprit was captured on camera leaving the building four hours later after using one of SAVI’s good service glass trophy awards to smash the window of another office which was also ransacked.
Annmarie added: “He smashed up our cash boxes and pulled apart the locked cabinet with all our kids files in there – it was in pieces on the floor. But only £38 in notes was taken along with a dictaphone and a digital camera.
“When I first heard about the robbery I was fighting back the tears because everything that we have we’ve begged for and borrowed. We’ve built everything up on donations.
“It’s knocked me for six.”
On top of this recent trauma, Annmarie revealed she has faced her own personal struggles after a deterioration in her health.
“Although I was still chairwoman I stepped back from the day-to-day running of the charity a couple of years ago because I was extremely ill,” explained Annmarie.
“I had an operation on my spine, after which I had three strokes – then I was diagnosed with a functional neurological disorder.
“I knew the stress of this could put me in my bed for weeks. I just couldn’t deal with it and we shut everything down – apart from giving help to a couple of families we were still dealing with.”
Annmarie set up SAVI after discovering there was no support out there for her daughter who was raped when she was just 14.
The 48-year-old Westwood mum considered walking away from the charity altogether but was persuaded by the SAVI Kids committee to keep fighting for the vital service which costs around £10,000 a year to run.
“We are the only service that helps children who are going through sexual abuse at this moment in time,” she said.
“But we still can’t get the kind of help that most charities get because child sex abuse is still stigmatised.
“It’s just heart wrenching when you know you’ve put every ounce of effort into getting it going to help the kids.
“All we need is a lockable file cabinet, a computer and a phone that works and a wee trickle of money we can use to keep the charity going.
“SAVI Kids has helped over 6000 individuals since starting in 2009. I can’t walk away knowing in my heart there is no other organisation out there focusing on these kids and families.”