Caption: M CRC’s Sue Lam and May Diskaya at Toxteth’s community garden
Offenders have been praised for transforming an overgrown dumping ground filled with broken booze bottles and rubbish into a thriving community garden as part of an unpaid work project.
Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (M CRC) supervises people on Community Payback who undertake projects all year round, and by doing so make reparations for the crimes they have committed.
The Trustees of the local charity that runs Toxteth Town Hall Community Resource Centre have thanked offenders for installing planters, flowerbeds and removing tonnes of rubbish during an on-going initiative.
Sue Lam, a M CRC Community Payback supervisor, has led teams of up to eight men on the project, which started at the town hall two-years-ago.
Denise Bernard, the charity’s company secretary, said: “We’ve had a fantastic relationship with Community Payback stretching back a long time.
“We’ve got no money for capital development and we have a building that dates back to 1866. Thanks to the work offenders did on the interior, we were able to rent refurbished areas to other charitable organisations and improved our sustainability.
“We also had land that had become a blight on the landscape due to previous plans not coming to fruition. This left the site a magnet for fly-tipping and a home to vermin.
“Now look at it! We now run two gardening clubs as well as other community groups using it and it’s a thriving facility that lends a splash of green to the area.”
The charity secured funds for equipment as well as securing in-kind materials while people on Community Payback supplied labour. Eight raised beds were created in M CRC’s workshop, fresh soil was brought in and the site is now growing a wide variety of veg.
Club members benefitted from a bountiful harvest last year. They are further expanding, with recent additions being two beds for root vegetables and poly tunnel.
Sue said: “It’s a great project. Because we’ve been coming here sometime, our service users can see the fruits of their labour, take a real pride in what they have created and learn new skills in the process.
“I love this job, everyday is different. I really enjoy watching service users come through and to see the difficult ones make positive changes. It also makes a huge difference when the lads get such positive feedback for what they have done.”
There are two gardening clubs, one for adults some of whom have disabilities and mental health conditions, and another family club that includes 25 children and 12 adults.
Denise added: “Quite simply, Community Payback is brilliant and they do what they say on the tin!”