A community centre offering a holiday club for youngsters has been targeted by thieves.
The YMCA centre in Samuel Street, run by Fishwick Rangers, was broken into overnight, with £3,000 taken from the office.
Leaders have slammed the attack as “shocking”, and believe the culprits may be known to the centre.
Zul Hussain, volunteer coordinator at Fishwick Rangers, said: “We believe it could be young people off the estate who know the building. They’ve not taken anything else.
“It was done on Monday night, and they would have been aware we’ve been running a holiday club and collected money from kids and their parents.”
Zul said it was thought they had attempted to crawl through space behind a grille in the side of the building, before opening a fire door, possibly with a crow bar.
He said: “We don’t normally have that much money, but it was the first day of the holiday club.” He said the organisation may now have to dip into reserves, and said: “They have paid for a full week’s worth of activities, which have still got to take place. The service has still got to carry on.”
He said he was concerned people would see the centre as unsafe, and said: “We’ve never had anything like this, but it could possibly deter people from coming.”
Fishwick councillor and vice chairman of the Friends of Fishwick and St Matthew’s, Martyn Rawlinson, said: “They are a charitable organisation and they can’t afford to lose money.
“The chances are it was someone local by the sounds of it and they must have known that money was there that day, which is a bit sickening.
“It’s horrible, I just hope they find who it is and get the money back.
“I have rarely come across vandalism or theft against a place like that in Fishwick and St Matthew’s.
“We get a bit of vandalism in the park but apart from that it’s not too bad at all, so it’s shocking really.”
Two cash boxes were taken in the break-in, at about 11.45pm on Monday. Police are investigating, and anyone with information can call 101.