Community Payback started work at Manor Close Community Hall, Thamesmead on Saturday 29 July 2006. The offenders have been painting the internal and external walls to make the hall look smarter.
Trust Thamesmead have provided the paint and paint brushes and arranged access to the building.
“The work is going very well,” said Fitzroy McKoy, Placement Manager, Beckenham Unpaid Work unit, London Probation. “We have painted and decorated the walls of the main hall, kitchen, toilets, office and hallway of the community centre and have yet to finish the external painting of the whole building. We anticipate finishing in about six to seven weeks time.
“The offenders are feeling the benefits of their work already - they know they are making it more pleasant for the community groups who use the facilities,” Fitzroy added, “ It also gives the offenders an opportunity to learn skills that they wouldn't have learned otherwise and they can interact in a group and constructive working environment.”
Community Payback is unpaid work offenders carry out in the community as part of their sentence.
Every year communities benefit from over 5 million hours of free labour provided by offenders. This includes bringing derelict areas and buildings back into public use, clearing church yards, country streams and unused allotments, repairing park benches and playground equipment. Some of the projects are relatively small; others, such as turning a derelict piece of land into a garden, can stretch over several years.
Their current focus is to engage the community in the choice of projects. They plan to set up community groups which will be the first point of contact for community involvement in unpaid work. The aim is to encourage community ownership and to show how offenders can help make their communities better.