Offenders make a difference

PUBLISHED: 02:29 07 December 2006 | UPDATED: 10:18 24 May 2010

Tessa Jones with Christine Jordon-Helps and Jean McIntyre at Birnbeck Day Centre.

Tessa Jones with Christine Jordon-Helps and Jean McIntyre at Birnbeck Day Centre.

TEAMS from Avon and Somerset Probation Service have been painting, digging and decorating their way round Weston. Offenders who have been sentenced to carry out unpaid work in the community to pay for their crimes have been making a real difference to sch

TEAMS from Avon and Somerset Probation Service have been painting, digging and decorating their way round Weston.Offenders who have been sentenced to carry out unpaid work in the community to pay for their crimes have been making a real difference to schools, charities and community centres by giving their facilities a new lease of life.For three months teams of offenders moved 20 tonnes of soil by hand from the grounds of Windwhistle County Primary School and covered the area with paving stones so the children can now learn to ride their bikes. They also put in a sandpit for the youngsters to enjoy.At Worle Community Centre a hard-working team spent 12 months painting the outside of the building, decorating the hall, toilets and kitchens and fitting some new doors. The church hall is also in the process of a revamp.The third project to be finished this year, under the direction of supervisor Lyndon Pask, was at Birnbeck Day Centre in Trenleigh Drive.The Birnbeck Unit at Ebdon Court caters for pensioners suffering from mental illness and Avon and Somerset Probation Service was invited in to put in a patio and carry out some gardening work.Centre manager Jan Fella said: "What they've done is brilliant. It's helped us no end because we haven't got the staff available to do that work. It's been very successful and there has been a good rapport between the day centre users and the offenders. The residents love the new garden."Three patios were installed in the grounds, the team put up a summer house for the visitors and also tidied up the gardens and added some paving stones around the pond. Teams continue to visit to carry out repairs and gardening work at the centre.Mr Pask said: "They enjoy doing the work, they take ownership of the areas. We take work from groups who couldn't afford to pay for it including charities, churches, schools and sports clubs.I think the offenders do get a lot out of it because they can see the difference they've made to people's lives. It helps to rehabilitate them and gives them a chance to learn a number of work-based skills."The probation service carries out projects across the whole of North Somerset. There are three supervisors who take out teams and each supervisor has up to three projects on the go at one time.Other projects currently on the go include improvements to Blakehay Theatre and Worle Community School. Any group or charity needing help with painting, decorating, landscaping or gardening projects can call 01934 528618.

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