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North-east community spaces transformed thanks to Payback Order support scheme

By David Porter

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Allotments and community gardens have been transformed thanks to more than 33,000 hours of unpaid work completed across Aberdeenshire by people carrying out community sentences.

Aberdeenshire higher support needs team worker (left) helps one of the team gardening at Longside Allotment, as part of a community payback order.
Aberdeenshire higher support needs team worker (left) helps one of the team gardening at Longside Allotment, as part of a community payback order.

Teams undertook a variety of tasks from gardening work to litter picking, joinery and painting as part of community payback orders (CPOs).

Various projects were highlighted in the new annual Community Payback Order report 2022-2023 which has just been published by Community Justice Scotland (note: end of March 2024). Areas across Scotland have been transformed by a total of 1.3 million hours of unpaid work completed over the year and people carrying out CPOs have been held to account and supported to reconnect and contribute to their communities.

In Aberdeenshire a higher support needs team works with people who have previously found it difficult to complete the unpaid work aspect of their CPO, due to complex needs. But they supported people to deliver 2882 hours of unpaid work on four community projects - Longside Allotment, Delgatie Castle, Strichen Community Park and Waulkmill Menagerie and also helped the Salvation Army in Peterhead. The good working relationship with the community projects provides consistency for those involved.

Jeff Shaw, Health & Social Care Partnership Manager and chair of the Aberdeenshire Community Justice Partnership, said: “Unpaid work gives people the opportunity to learn new skills while giving back to their community. This supports people with their rehabilitation and also communities benefit from the work carried out. The service looks at how best to support individuals to complete their community sentences and we’ve had very positive feedback from groups which have benefited from the work.”

Victoria Guthrie, an improvement lead with Community Justice Scotland, said: “Community Payback Orders allow people to repay harm caused and access the support and services they need within their own communities to address the drivers of their offending. Justice social work and other partners, involved in supporting individuals to complete their community sentences, have remained dedicated and diligent despite financial and resource challenges. They’ve ensured services address individual needs, which helps to reduce the risk of reoffending and creates a safer Scotland for all. Unpaid work has transformed different areas and supported those in need, making a meaningful impact on communities across the country.”

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