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Offenders Help Restore Community Centre


Barry Coppinger and Father Andrew Burns with staff and offenders from Kirklevington Prison

Cleveland’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Barry Coppinger showed his support for a project which involves offenders from Kirklevington Prison undertaking unpaid work with the community, whilst improving their skills and prospects of employment upon release.

The scheme has involved a team of offenders working to restore the John Paul Centre in Middlesbrough. The centre provides a valuable haven for the most vulnerable within Middlesbrough, providing access to a food bank, refuge and a drop in facility for asylum seekers and refugees who are new to the area, however the building itself was badly in need of repair and lacking the funding to complete the necessary work.

The team of offenders have worked alongside paid tradespeople to complete the restoration work at a fraction of the cost, enabling the centre to become a fully operating facility.

Offenders come to Kirklevington towards the end of their sentence, and the prison provides a full range of education and training, together with careers advice ranging from how to write a CV, to assistance to completing job applications.

Barry Coppinger said: “Research has shown that the most effective way to prevent prison leavers returning to offending behaviour is for them to obtain stable employment and accommodation. In today’s competitive job market the work undertaken by prisons such as Kirklevington in preparing offenders for release and ensuring they are fully equipped with the training and skills they need to obtain employment is invaluable.

I’ve been delighted to meet the men involved in this project and to hear about the benefits they feel it has brought to their lives. There are many agencies across the Cleveland area who work with offenders, both young and old, to undertake unpaid work within the community, and in my role as Commissioner I want to promote these valuable activities and encourage local communities and organisations to suggest projects which they feel would benefit their local area. ”

Steve Robson, the Governor of HMP Kirklevington Grange, said: “We are delighted that we are able to contribute to worthwhile causes in the community which also provide meaningful work and resettlement experiences to those who are held in our custody.”

Father Andrew Burns from the John Paul Centre added: “We have been extremely happy with the work that the offenders have undertaken. It has been an excellent experience, both for them and us, and they have been very well received by our clients. In addition to this they have done a very good job and saved us an awful lot of money, so we are delighted on all counts.”

If you are an organisation or there is a cause near you which could benefit from the assistance of an unpaid work project then you can nominate a project online on the Commissioner’s website at www.cleveland.pcc.police.uk/Performance/Community-Payback.aspx


Posted on Friday 21st March 2014
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