As part of their sustainability and social impacts agenda, Her Majesty’s Prison and Probation Service (HMPPS) run annual Wildlife Awards. The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) Ecology Network and HMPPS believe in the importance of involving staff and offenders in the protection of wildlife. Taking part in schemes such as the Wildlife Awards helps offenders to become active members of the local community while contributing and giving something back to society.
This year teams within Kent, Surrey and Sussex Community Rehabilitation Company (KSS CRC) put forward their local Community Payback projects in the hope of winning a HMPPS Wildlife Award. We are pleased to announce that Parc Cwm Darran in Wales won the overall award in the Community Outreach category!
Set in the Darran Valley, this 1000-acre country park has a variety of habitats including woodland, grassland and wetlands. The KSS CRC Community Payback teams play a big part in managing the area. Some of the jobs include maintaining the paths and cycle tracks, planting new hedgerows, creating habitat piles, and maintaining boardwalks so that children can safely take part in pond dipping. Through this initiative, service users have learnt new skills which will assist them in seeking employment – aspects such as timekeeping, teamwork, health and safety, manual handling and achieving targets. Dr Phil Thomas, Head Judge, fed back saying, “The judges were very impressed with the amount of work and diversity of habitat management that the Community Payback offenders are involved in, along with their supervisors.” One service user completed 180 hours of Community Payback in just three months, working four days a week. As a result of the mentoring he received from the park rangers, he now lives in London and has found and secured a new job. With his long history of previous offences, it shows that given a chance in the right environment, offenders really do have the ability to transform their lives.
Also within the Community Outreach category, the KSS CRC partnership with the National Trust received a ‘Commendation’ for their hard work over the last 12 years. To date, Community Payback teams have completed eight miles of repair to a medieval embankment wall, an extremely important habitat which offers food, shelter and nesting sites to a wide range of species. More recently, groups have been planting new hedgerows to make up for the destruction of woodland areas to make room for housing. At the end of the project, the teams will have planted 14,000 mixed hedgerow plants! The judges commended Jakki Bourgein, Community Payback Supervisor, for her enthusiasm and commitment towards the project.
Three other projects also made it through to the final judging stages; Ein Berllan/Our Orchard, Cathays Cemetery and the Llanfyllin wetlands. All based in Wales, Community Payback teams within Wales Probation Services have worked hard to restore and maintain these areas.
Participation in initiatives such as the Wildlife Awards allow service users to gain a wider understanding of how nature can aid recovery from both physical and emotional health issues. Seeing the benefits of the work they are undertaking really helps to boost the confidence of service users. They often have low self-esteem when starting their Community Payback hours but have great pride once finished. This really can only be a positive step towards their crime-free life.
Community Payback is a sentence delivered by the courts and is intended as both a punishment and means by which someone can make amends to the community for the harm they have caused. For more information take a look at our Community Payback page.