PCC Barry Coppinger showed his support for a project which helps rehabilitated young offenders gain skills and qualifications and earn a wage, whilst helping to keep flooding at bay.
Skill Mill Ltd is a social enterprise company established in partnership between Newcastle Youth Offending Team and the Environment Agency, which provides young people who have completed their community sentence with employment opportunities in environmental management.
The project has linked up with East Durham College to run an accredited training programme, so the young people involved follow a structured course and gain qualifications.
Together with projects in the Newcastle area, the young people are also carrying out a range of initiatives across Cleveland.
The Commissioner met the first young people to go through the programme, as they undertook essential litter and debris removal in Hartburn to improve the drainage and reduce the risk of future flooding.
Barry Coppinger said: “I believe firmly that people who make mistakes should be given the chance to make amends and undertake rehabilitation to enable them to contribute positively to society and break the cycle of offending.
Projects like Skill Mill, which give young people mentoring and qualifications, enabling them to improve their employment prospects, and hopefully go on to lead happy and successful lives are invaluable in preventing the cycle of offending behaviour. I’ve been delighted to meet the young men involved in this project and to hear about the benefits they feel it has brought to their lives.”
Marie Fallon, Area Manager at the Environment Agency, said: "We are very excited to be offering young people employment opportunities through Skill Mill Ltd. Environmental management can be extremely rewarding work – as well as offering long-term career opportunities, it can be very fulfilling to know that you are helping to improve the environment for people and wildlife.
"In addition, this Skill Mill project will serve the wider community by teaching important skills and coordinating environmental work with local aspirations. Community involvement in environmental projects is a huge help to us in achieving our goals."
David Parks, Team Manager at Newcastle Youth Offending Team added: "This new social enterprise is offering paid work and training for those young people, who have not only completed this reparation, but have shown the right character and attitude and proved to us they will make the most of this opportunity.
The young men are working four days a week, and will receive the national minimal wage, which varies dependent on an individual’s age. On the other day they will undertake a Level 1 City and Guilds qualification in Land Based Operations at East Durham College.
The opportunity provided by the Skill Mill lasts for six months, and in that time they will have gained invaluable work experience, learned to work as a team and obtained a qualification.”
Posted on Monday 10th March 2014