Offenders branch out to help gardeners

Members of Unpaid Work Team with Perth and Kinross councillor Douglas Pover (third from left) and representatives of the local allotment association at the Turfhills site at Kinross. Picture by Dave Scott.
Members of Unpaid Work Team with Perth and Kinross councillor Douglas Pover (third from left) and representatives of the local allotment association at the Turfhills site at Kinross. Picture by Dave Scott.

Offenders carrying out unpaid work have been demonstrating their green-fingered skills by planting hundreds of trees at allotments in Kinross.

More than 400 young native trees were donated to Milnathort and Kinross Allotments Association by the Woodland Trust and planted with the help of Perth & Kinross Council’s unpaid work team.

‘Working for the benefit of the community gives offenders opportunity to pay back for their offences ’

The aim is to encourage more wildlife but also provide a windbreak around the boundary of the site at Turfhills.

The site comprises 30 allotments, which are in their second season, as well as a community garden area, which is used by local residents including the local children’s gardening club; Kinross High School’s learning support department; the local day centre for older people, and the ‘Broke not Broken’ group, who plan to grow food at the site.

To improve the allotments further, the unpaid work team delivered a load of compost for the gardeners’ use and also laid some slabs next to the association’s main polytunnel to improve access.

Convener of Perth & Kinross Council’s community safety committee, Councillor Douglas Pover, said: “The unpaid work team is available to carry out a whole range of tasks which are aimed at being of benefit to the community.

“As part of their ‘payback’ they often carry out gardening and landscaping projects.

“The jobs the unpaid work team undertake are driven by community priorities. Working for the benefit of the community enables the offenders the opportunity to pay back for their offences whilst developing new skills, such as gardening, and this increases their employment opportunities, improves self-esteem, enhances social inclusion and ultimately contributes to a reduction in re-offending.”

Meanwhile, Fife Council’s Community Payback Unpaid Work Scheme has also received high praise.

In north east Fife, community projects have included the painting of the interior and exterior of Tayport Harbour toilets; repairing and painting rowing boats, crazy golf and various other leisure equipment at Craigtoun Park; painting and decorating of classrooms and indoor play areas at Cupar Pre-School Playgroup; removal of rubbish, weeds, moss and surplus unwanted equipment at Forgan Arts Centre; interior painting for Tayport Scout Group and erection of wooden fence within hall grounds; the preparation of ground and slab laying for erection of greenhouse at Canongate Primary School, St Andrews and the construction of wooden seating boxes for an outdoor classroom at St Andrews Botanic Garden.

A vocational qualification has also been devised which has become a nationally recognised module. This counts as part of unpaid activity and to date, 15 people in Fife have successfully completed the module.

Chair of north east Fife area committee, Councillor Frances Melville, said: “Community Payback plays a significant and positive role in communities.

“After each project, plaques are left indicating that the work has been carried out by the unpaid work scheme and this has an encouraging impact on those who have participated as well as the recipients of the service.

“It’s great to see so many individuals and organisations throughout north east Fife benefiting from Community Payback.

“I’m also pleased to see Community Payback participants can now gain a vocational qualification.”