Offenders spruce up allotments

Gwent people paying back for the crimes they have committed have helped to transform allotments for the benefit of the local community.

A dozen service users from Wales Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) ordered to complete Community Payback as part of their sentences have been working to spruce up Castle Street Allotments in Blaenavon over the last two years.

Completing individual placements, the service users have managed to renovate a huge area and breathe new life into it as well as create a space for a toilet and new allotment spaces. Collectively, they have cleared overgrown areas, removed rubbish, created a new path, laid new membrane, and even erected walls, fences, a shed and a picnic bench.

A spokesman for the Castle Street Committee, said: “It’s been wonderful. There was some apprehension from some of our members at the start, but it’s proven to be a massive success.

“We’ve had around 12 service users who have worked really hard for us over the last couple of years and shown a fantastic attitude. Some of our overgrown areas must have been about five feet in height at the start – I really wish we’d taken some pictures before we started the works.

“It’s important to give people a second chance and give people a chance to learn new skills. Some of the service users are still in touch with us today, even after completing their hours, to use the skills they have learned.

“Most of our members are considered elderly, so without the service users’ work, we simply wouldn’t have been able to do the work that’s been done. We’ll definitely be continuing the relationship with the CRC.”

Lacey Meredith, Community Payback Manager at Wales CRC, said: "This is a fantastic example of the great work we achieve each and every day, working out in the communities in which we serve. This project alone contributed hundreds of collective hours of work towards the community, and it's been brilliant to receive reports informing us that many of the service users continue to support the projects and beneficiaries after their orders have been completed."

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