The effort made by offenders on community work sentences is receiving praise from schools and community groups in Timaru.
Community Probation & Psychological Services Timaru Manager Kevin Foley says offenders on community work sentences have provided assistance to a number of schools, kindergartens and learning centres in the Timaru area.
“Community work sentences require offenders to do unpaid work in the community for non-profit organisations as reparation for their offending. Providing assistance to help local schools is one such way work done by offenders can benefit the community.”
At West End Kindergarten offenders tidied the grounds, while at Waimataitai Free Kindergarten they cleaned lockers and buildings, weeded, moved compost and dug over the vegetable garden.
At St Joseph’s School they painted seating and cut overgrown plants, at Creative Corner Early Learning Centre they painted a fence and tidied up gardens. For good measure, community work teams also helped tidy up St Joseph’s school in Temuka; Kowhai Kindergarten and the Geraldine District Free Kindergarten.
Kevin says offenders on community work sentences have also helped a number of community groups. This included weeding at the Red Cross Timaru centre, removing a stockpile of rubbish for the South Canterbury Drama League, tiding up the grounds of the Geraldine Vintage Care & Machinery Club and removing old carpet at the Air Training Corps 15 Squadron headquarters.
The work being done in the local community has clearly been appreciated.
“We’ve received letters of appreciation from some of the community groups, who wanted to pass on their thanks for the work and comment on the effort made by the offenders."
Kevin says that while the community groups benefit from the work, it also serves a valuable purpose for the offenders involved.
“Community Work is also a practical way to help offenders learn new skills and work habits, this can assist with getting future employment which has been shown to greatly reduce the chances of further offending.
“The offenders also get a real sense of pride from their efforts. They’re giving back something to the community, which is a positive outcome for the offenders. Helping schools has added value as the offenders realise the importance of schools and feel good about helping them improve their facilities.”
Kevin says his team of community work supervisors keep in regular contact with community groups to assess whether they can benefit from having offenders assist their organisations.
“I encourage community groups to approach us if they have a task that needs doing. We have a ready resource available to help them with a whole range of work.”
Kevin said offenders on community work were heavily supervised and that staff considered a range of factors before determining the type of community work project an individual offender would undertake.
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