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Two break-ins at mental-health group

Thieves leave bloody mess at SSCOPE non-profit HQ

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A SSCOPE crew empties a truck full of leaves, brush and supplies at the Arlington Street depot at the end of a spring-cleaning workday.

RUTH BONNEVILLE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A SSCOPE crew empties a truck full of leaves, brush and supplies at the Arlington Street depot at the end of a spring-cleaning workday. Photo Store

IT’S been a rough Mental Health Week for a non-profit group trying to help people return to work after two break-ins in 24 hours left behind a bloody mess and trashed offices.

"You shake your head and wonder ‘what is the point?’ " said Bob Rempel, executive director of SSCOPE: Self Starting Creative Opportunities for People in Employment. "We’re here to help people."

On Monday morning, staff arrived at the SSCOPE offices and thrift store to discover the Arlington Street operation had been broken into. Thieves smashed open the cash register and stole some money. After spending the day calling police and alarm companies to beef up security, Rempel said they arrived Tuesday morning to find thieves had broken in again. The bandits smashed glass to get into locked offices, cut themselves and left a trail of blood as they ransacked drawers and file cabinets.

"He or she was cut — there was blood everywhere," Rempel said Thursday as a restoration company ripped out the stained carpeting.

"We’re not disheartened," said Rempel. "It’s an opportunity to talk about the reality of what we do."

The organization hires people who’ve recovered from mental illness and need to ease back into the workforce. SSCOPE provides casual and part-time jobs for more than 200 employee- members a year.

SSCOPE crews are currently spring-cleaning yards all over Winnipeg, running the Treasures Thrift Store and preparing the food truck for inspection so it can hit the streets selling smokies and nachos.

Mental Health Week runs May 6-13. The Canadian Mental Health Association said the annual national event encourages people from all walks of life to "learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health."

The organization that began in 1991 has been at its current location for three years and doesn’t plan to move, he said.

The break-ins haven’t shaken their faith in the neighbourhood, said Rempel. In fact, they’re going ahead with a music festival next weekend at 1466 Arlington St. The Rockin’ the Bridge Festival 4 Mental Health runs the night of May 24 and all day May 25.

"Life goes on," said Rempel.

 

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

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