Offenders provide boost for North-east projects

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Offenders serving Community Payback Orders. with a requirment of unpaid work, have given a boost to projects across Aberdeenshire.

From shops and schools to community centres and flood defence walls, schemes have all been given a helping hand through members of the unpaid work team carrying out work in Ellon, Inverurie and Stonehaven in recent months.

The Garioch Charities Shop in Inverurie raises money to support local voluntary organisations and international appeals.

The shop benefited from a complete redecoration thanks to the hard work of the participating offenders.

Chairperson of the shop’s trustees, Sue Kinsey, is delighted with the work.

She said that the group who decorated the shop had provided a good service for the community and she really appreciated their efforts.

Esslemont School has also had a makeover with the unpaid work team gradually sanding, painting and plastering their way through the building.

Community learning and development worker Sally Sheehan said that although the building has great space and an ideal location it was starting to look a little uncared for.

She said: “People who use the building are delighted with its new look – all in all the unpaid work team has made a huge difference for local folk who use the facility.”

Sally is also the secretary for Slains and Collieston Community Council, and had more praise for the team following some work on the Collieston Community Centre which, she said, was completed very quickly and to a very high standard.

She added: “As a very small community we would not have been able to achieve this without the wonderful help and support we received from the unpaid work team.

“We would highly recommend the group to other communities.”

Another project to restore a supporting wall as part of a flood defence barrier has recently been completed by the team.

The wall was swept away in the November, 2009, flooding and prevents water spilling into residents’ gardens from the River Carron during high flows

Scottish Flood Forum Director Paul Hendy helped provide advice and support in the town following the November flooding and said: “The importance to the community of this local defence cannot be underestimated.

“Not only will it assist homes and business premises from possible future flooding, but also bring immeasurable reduction in fear and anxiety to local people every time heavy rain affects Stonehaven.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of adult and criminal justice services, Philip English, said: “I am delighted to hear such positive feedback about the projects the unpaid work team have carried out.

“These are very worthy endeavours and it is great to hear first-hand the benefits they are bringing to our communities.”

If you belong to a charitable or non-profit making organisation and need assistance with a community project you can contact projects officer Gillian Christie on 01569 768338.

Community Payback Orders last year replaced sentences of probation, community service and supervised attendance orders. It marked the Scottish Government’s new approach to community-based sentencing.