Food bank volunteers have been left heartbroken after thieves broke in and stole £400 worth of food stockpiled for 'families most in need'.

Staff at Trinity Church Food Bank in Radcliffe were called late last night (December 2) with the devastating news that the shutters at the building in Westminster Avenue had been forced open.

Intruders had managed to get inside and the food which would have gone to the most vulnerable people across Bury had been stolen.

When police arrived at the scene, it was found that all the stock volunteers had just bought that day, to see Bury residents through the hardest months of the year, had been lifted.

"We got a call from the local police last night, at about 10.30pm, to say the food bank had been broken into," food bank volunteer Tina Harrison told the Manchester Evening News .

"They had taken all of the stock that was bought that day from the cash and carry.

"It was around £400-worth of food - big trays of food to make meals with.

"We spend all day packing bags for people most in need, it's upsetting for all the volunteers to think that someone could do this.

"But it's just part of life know I think, people don't think about the impact their crimes can have on other people."

The door to the food bank was forced open

During months of lockdown, the food bank has been seeing more and more people, says Tina.

Handing out almost 500 food parcels a month, the Radcliffe food bank provides vital resources for the vulnerable stretching across Bury, from Ainsworth to Whitefield, along with schools in the area.

Its newest clients are people who have lost their jobs or spend weeks on furlough as a result of the pandemic, and are suddenly struggling to feed their families.

Hard-working volunteers like Sister Joan of the Salford Diocese, who founded the food bank, have been left 'upset'

"The people we are seeing now are not the people we were seeing before lockdown," said the food bank volunteer.

"We're getting people who have lost their jobs or have been placed on furlough and are unexpectedly struggling.

"They are now faced with the choice of paying their mortgage or feeding their families. It's a different sort of client to what we had earlier."

After the food bank shared the news that it had been the victim of theft, the community banded together.

"We have been inundated with so much kindness from the community - people donating food to replace what we've lost," said Tina.

"I always find Radcliffe is an amazing community, a lot of people don't have much and it always surprises me how generous people are.

"I'm just thankful they have not taken any of the Christmas stock we had, presents for the children."

The food bank is often filled with donations from the Radcliffe community - which banded together again to help the vulnerable after the theft

In the hours after the break-in, police arrested one man thanks to 'the excellent intelligence' shared by the community as word of the theft spread.

Officers from Greater Manchester Police's Bury North team said: "At around 10.30pm on the evening of Wednesday 2nd December 2020, the Radcliffe area team responded to a burglary at the Trinity Church Food Bank, located at Trinity Baptist Church on Westminster Avenue, which supplies the vulnerable people of Radcliffe with food at these desperate times.

Volunteers have been working tirelessly throughout lockdown to make sure people have enough to eat

"Police have conducted a large scale area search trying to locate the offenders and followed up on excellent intelligence provided from members of the community.

"As a result of this action one male was arrested a short time after and we have identified a second who can be expecting a heavy knock at the door shortly."

Police found some food stock during their searches, says Tina, but only one carrier bag of food could be returned to the food bank for use.

Officers are still asking for anyone with information to get in touch.

"We are urging anyone with information to come forward and call 101 or crime stoppers quoting log number 2964-02122020," added Greater Manchester Police.