Community payback scheme comes to fruition for Halloween

Community payback scheme comes to fruition for Halloween

The crops harvested by local children

Halloween came early to children in North Lanarkshire as people serving community payback orders saw their work come to fruition with a large harvest of pumpkins being provided to local youngsters.

An innovative project setup by our Restorative Justice Service has given individuals serving court issued payback orders to work the land on the banks of the River Clyde and grow fruit and vegetables to be distributed to local children and residents in sheltered housing complexes.

With the 31st of October approaching, local children, under the supervision of the placement team, were invited to pick pumpkins from the growing fields and carve them ahead of Halloween. The young people also got to paint them, ‘dook’ for apples, pick other fruit and vegetables including carrots and kale and enjoy fresh pumpkin soup!

Jim Curtis, placement manager, said: “The children, service users and placement team had a great day harvesting and decorating.

“Those carrying out payback order can make a real positive difference in our communities, and this is a great example of one of the many projects we are involved in. A number of years ago we agreed a partnership with local farmer Wilbur Hall, who sadly passed away last year, to develop an area of his spare ground to help with our rehabilitation programme.

“He believed in giving people second chances and this has allowed us to create a teaching project to help service users develop new skills and contribute to the local community.

“We’ve been able to put polytunnels and greenhouses up and we are self-sufficient with the use of solar panels allowing us to use heaters to bring on seeds in early spring at no cost. This has helped us to provide over 200 bread baskets worth of fruit and vegetables to children’s homes and sheltered housing complexes each year.”

Councillor Angela Campbell, convener of education, children and families, added: “Individuals serving community payback orders are given the chance to build on their rehabilitation by developing new skills while giving something back to local communities.

“It is great to see projects like this bring joy to children but also providing fresh produce to vulnerable people at this time with so many cost of living pressures.

“Our restorative justice team do a magnificent job from this food growing project, to refurbishing bikes to give to local children, creating benches and displays and upgrading play parks.

“These projects help the service users learn practical and educational skills which will boost their future career options and help develop a sense of community and teamwork.”

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