A cancer charity has been left with a £2,500 clean up bill after people dumped rubbish outside its shops in Essex. 

The Helen Rollason Cancer Charity says it has been forced to get industrial sized skips in to remove some of the waste, which has included broken furniture, boxes and rubbish sacks. 

It has had to use funds that would have been spent on helping people with cancer in the county. 

Head of Retail Alison Matthews said: “Our charity shops are run predominantly by our fantastic volunteers who give up their precious time to help support the charity.

"We are always grateful to our loyal, local residents for donating their items to us, however I have been dismayed that a small minority are leaving bags and boxes of donations outside our shops when they have been closed and subsequently ruined by the weather and in extreme cases, attracting vermin.

"Some donations have even turned out to be household rubbish!

"This is not only a health and safety risk but also costing the charity vital money."

The charity has support centres in Southend, Colchester and Hatfield Peverel.

It also has shops in Wickford, Burnham and Witham. 

Mr Matthews added: "I urge the general public to please refrain from leaving donations outside our shops at any time as they may be stolen or damaged by the weather, making them worthless.

"And please make sure all donated items are sellable: that toys are in full working order, games contain all the pieces and that all clothes are clean and stain-free.”