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22nd February 2016

Unpaid work helps offenders pay back

An offender painting a Community Centre in Ashton.

An offender painting a Community Centre in Ashton.

By Lillian Kinloch and Ronnie Shaw, Community Payback supervisors

UNPAID work is a sentence that results in offenders carrying out tens of thousands of hours of good work across Cheshire and Greater Manchester every year.

Offenders can be sentenced to carry out anything from 40 to 300 hours of Community Payback by Magistrates or Judges. People complete a minimum of a day’s work – lasting at least seven hours – once a week. If they are unemployed they undertake their hours full-time.

All projects combine hard work and the chance for the participant to develop skills. It is also a punishment as the individual is giving up their time to carry out the work. It benefits the community and the projects undertaken are nominated by the public. They range from ground clearance in public areas, gardening in local parks, painting and decorating, to running social clubs.

For example, we are currently working with the Hamilton Davis Trust in Irlam to clear a cycle path; and a women’s group is painting Stretford’s civic hall.

One of the best events we are involved with is the social club in Salford for adults. They all have a range of health issues, including Down’s Syndrome and learning difficulties.

Many service users may not know anyone with these health issues and this activity helps open their eyes and develop their caring skills.

As Community Payback (CP) supervisors we love the social side to the work, the rehabilitation of service users and how this benefits the community.

The service users sentenced to CP come from all walks of life. Their offences vary from relatively minor instances of public disorder through to more serious crimes that could involve actual bodily harm.

To effect change with service users you need to engage with them, use pro-social modelling, listen and get to know them and their life story.

You can then be pro-active by discussing life choices and patterns of behaviour – which don’t need to continue in the same way, so that they can reflect on this while they are undertaking their work with you.

We believe Community Payback does work. Service users are almost always unhappy at the beginning, but by the end they are very much part of a hard working team, happy to be doing CP and really positive.

One service user, Shaun, finishes his order today and he never stops smiling. His sense of humour is amazing and the fact he is such a comedian really gells the group as a team, to complete their work to the highest standard.

Finally, the work service users complete is very well received by the different beneficiaries in the community. Staff and service users are regularly thanked for making a difference to their local community, as evidenced by several examples on this website.