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Offenders’ programme “very successful”

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By Marc McLean, local democracy reporter
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Offenders' programme

OFFENDERS sent to do work with Dumfries and Galloway charities as community service often go back to volunteer once their punishment period is over, it has been revealed.

Bosses at charity organisations have been delighted with the extra help they receive for free as part of the criminal justice system programme, and build good relationships with the men and women carrying out the work.

People ordered to carry out community service instead of jail term end up at various places across the region, including community groups, charity shops and animal sanctuaries.

Clarks Little Ark animal shelter in Sanquhar has benefitted from offenders making a valuable contribution. Jobs include working with the animals, feeding, and housekeeping, as well as opportunities for skilled trades or DIY skilled individuals to update and maintain the grounds and buildings.

In a new Dumfries and Galloway Council social work report, management at the animal rescue centre stated: “We would just like to say thank you for all the help Clark’s Little Ark receives from placements from unpaid work. Over the years they have helped with many tasks and their help is greatly appreciated.

“Many of them leave their number after they have completed their hours, so that if I ever need help, I can ask them. A few have also come back as volunteers.

“There have been very few unsuccessful placements, out of all the placements over the years. All the help is greatly appreciated and enables Clark’s Little Ark to continue to be open to everyone free of charge.”

Similar positive feedback was received by the council from the Salvation Army Distribution Centre in Dumfries.

The charity offers the opportunity to sort goods and clothing, steam cleaning garments, deliveries, and collections in the van, and to develop skills in customer service.

Salvation Army management stated: “This placement has been very successful with service users continuing to volunteer once their unpaid work has ended.”

This feedback is included in a social work update report, covering April-September 2023, which will be presented to councillors at next week’s Nithsdale Area Committee.

The community service placements have been described as “very successful” by report author Gillian Grieveson, the council’s quality and performance manager.

She added: “The development and sustainability of personal placements is vital to the successful provision of unpaid work across the region, which can be challenging in a large rurality.

“One council department offer personal placements working in a garage environment, carry out a range of tasks, i.e., valeting pool cars, movement of vehicles.

“This type of experience of an operational workplace supports motivation and encouragement for employability/training. We are hoping this will be rolled out to other council workshops across the region.”

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