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Iona Worthington went in to shock the night she found her stepfather's house broken into. He was seriously ill in a nursing home and the house had been standing empty.

A lot of damage was done. The thieves smashed a window, hacked through the locks in the doors, damaging the door frames, and left a terrible mess.

They took everything of value, including the family silver, tables, lamp shades and four Victorian garden urns. They even used the bedclothes and cushions to wrap the fragile pieces in. Mrs Worthington has four pages of lists of missing items.

"It was like a death, you grieve. They took all the things from my past, the things I grew up with. My mother died five years ago. They got everything that was dear to her," Mrs Worthington said.

Four months later she is still battling to sort out her insurance claims. Repairs still need to be made, carpets need cleaning, cushions have to be re-covered. Worse still, she is struggling to obtain valuations of all the stolen possessions, without the help of her stepfather, who is still sick.

Having gone through this experience on her own, Mrs Worthington thinks the Club concept a good idea. "It would have been such a relief, just to have someone else in the background taking care of things for you, and shouldering some of the burden. I think I would now pay an extra bit, to think that I could have that sort of support at such a stressful time," she said.

Dido Sandler

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