THERE are many benefits to the Community Payback, both for individuals and the community, according to Julie Thornton.
Julie is assistant manager of Community Payback in Calderdale and Kirklees and has worked for the Yorkshire Probation Trust for nearly 30 years.
“It is a diverse job. You could be dealing with transport or health and safety or dealing with a staff issue. It is a really interesting job and I think the good thing about it is that the work is very visual,” she said.
Community Payback is part of a community order given by the courts. It is a punishment but also has rehabilitation elements, teaching skills and building confidence but it is also about understanding the community, explained Julie.
“If you go to the park and it is in a poor state it doesn’t give you any pride in that area. But if you then make it look better you start to develop some pride in it so you try to keep it looking good,” she said.
Giving something back is what Community Payback is about and teams have been busy helping with projects in the area.
Brambles and litter were cleared from the graveyard at St Martin’s Parish Church, Brighouse, so it would look more attractive to passers-by.
And they were hoping to tidy up on a regular basis so it looked better for the community.
Teams have also been lending a hand at the BMX track in Wellholme Park, Brighouse. Youngsters have been busy re-building the track which was destroyed by drivers in 4x4 cars.
And last week there was a presentation to members of the Community Payback teams from Rastrick Bowling Club. Teams have been helping to restore the exterior of the bowling club and a presentation was made to the team and Stuart Hinkins, who supervised the project as a special thanks. The event also marked Stuart’s retirement from supervision in Community Payback.
Over the years the team has been involved in creating the play area on the Stoney Lane estate, Lightcliffe, and helping with work at Bailiff Bridge Community Centre.
“Some projects are recommended to us from Calderdale Council, the cleaner, safer greener team, street wardens and the police. But sometimes it is the general public who see there is a particular problem and have asked the council several times and don’t know who else to turn to,” said Julie.
“A lot of the requests are for litter picks but I think that is because people don’t realise that we have a lot of skilled workers that can do painting and decorating, building work. Just now we are helping to rebuild a wall in Coach Road, Hove Edge, and we are involved in other more complex jobs.”
The team is often welcomed by the community which sees what they are doing as a positive thing.
“While they are carrying out the work people often walk past and notice a difference and speak to the workers. The feedback is very good. People are pleased to see that their environment is being cared for.
“The community really does benefit. People are seeing jobs get done that might otherwise not have been tackled.
“And the team is getting a lot out of it as its members are learning new skills and getting a positive reaction from the people they are working for.”
In the last 12 months there have been 5,288 supervised offenders throughout West Yorkshire who completed 646,630 hours of unpaid work, the equivalent of £3,834,516.
“Anyone can refer projects to us which they want to be addressed through our website. We ask basic information about what they want doing and try to respond to that. We do try and do as much as we possibly can,” said Julie.
“At the end of last year we had workers helping to clear snow from hospital car parks.
“We try to be reactive and responsive to what is happening at the time.”