Long-term Community Payback project an invaluable resource to St. Joseph’s

Long-term Community Payback project an invaluable resource to St. Joseph’s image

St. Joseph’s Adult Services in Formby is receiving multiple benefits from a long-term relationship developed with Merseyside Community Rehabilitation Company (M CRC) who provide site maintenance through the Community Payback (CP) provision.

M CRC have have been on site since 2008 maintaining the grounds and ensuring site safety for visitors, staff and residents with complex disabilities.

Sister Margaret Stack oversees the CP project provided to The Friends of St. Joseph’s, a registered charity, and Prayer Centre.

She said: “The CP team do a lot of work on the upkeep of the grounds. Visitors are always commenting on its beauty and high maintenance standard.

“The natural environment has a calming effect but there is much work to be done. The presence of the CP team is a win-win situation for everyone on site.”

M CRC received the original invite from Friends of St. Joseph’s due to word of mouth from successful CP work done at St. Joseph’s hospice, also in Formby.

John Lavin was M CRCs Sefton operations manager for CP from 2007 to June 2015. He supported the start of the project to help the charity reduce maintenance costs and give M CRC service users the opportunity to learn new skills while completing their unpaid work hours.

John said: “There were obvious benefits to implementing this project. Our service users have learned a multitude of new skills such as pathway building, putting up walls, interior and exterior painting and decorating and a wide variety of skills associated to garden maintenance.

“These skills benefit our service users by making them employable. They are also able to interact with the beneficiaries who soon realized they were regular people who had simply made a mistake. This helped build the confidence of our service users.”

The St. Joseph’s site is surrounded by National Trust woodland and is linked to the shores on Formby beach. It is home to a multitude of wildlife.

Marj Taylor, CP supervisor, with site supervision duties from the beginning of the project, built up a strong relationship with the sisters and Service Managers who oversee the CP project at St. Joseph’s. She said: “Our relationship is solid. They treat the service users with respect and dignity.”

Strict health and safety standards require a high level of maintenance. CP service users mow lawns, weed the gardens, clean windows, and paint and move furniture where necessary.

Marj said: “The environment is kept as natural and safe as possible which provides ample maintenance opportunities.

We have completed 1000’s of hours since 2008. Originally the job was seven days a week but can now be maintained at three days a week.”

“Service users can start and finish their order on the site which can provide certainty which is integral to the rehabilitation of some service users.”

Cathy Murphy, Service Manager at Fernley Resource Centre, spoke highly of the value St Joseph’s receives from having the CP project on site.

She said: “The groundwork provided by CP is essential and hugely beneficial to us. We couldn’t have created this fantastic setting without their help.

“They get on with most low-level maintenance tasks with little or no briefing. It is such a big site there is always something to do.

“The well-being of the people who live at St. Joseph’s and attend at Fernley Resource Centre, is our main priority. CP service users help prevent hazards by clearing pathways of debris to prevent accidents which is a mammoth task, especially in the autumn when leaves get slippery.

“They recently painted all the edges on the curb stones so they stand out at night for safety. We really can’t thank them enough for their hard work.”

Simon Gregory, current CP supervisor at St. Joseph’s heaped praise on the staff at St. Joseph’s for being so open and welcoming to the lads who have been convicted of low to medium level criminal behaviours.

He said: “The staff at St Joseph’s have always been open to having the lads. They appreciate that they need a chance to learn new skills. They are helping us to change public perception of men on probation.

“We were given permission to install a shed on site with all our maintenance tools. The project is working. We’re here to stay as long as they will have us.”

St. Joseph’s have developed exceptional partnerships working in the Sefton area.  It holds a spectacular summer fair and have recently held sports days and a sensory stroll through the site with the help and support of Active Sefton. Former CP service users have returned to volunteer at the events due to the benefits they have received being on site completing their hours.

CP service users are also benefiting from a new horticultural project on site with Hugh Baird College. They will assist the project by doing any grounds maintenance that is required and recently cleared a space for a 10’x7’ greenhouse.