Jobs scheme helps ex-of­fend­ers bloom

Evening Times - - NEWS - By VIVIENNE NI­COLL

A SCHEME has been launched in Bel­la­hous­ton Park to help ex-of­fend­ers get a job.

Ex­perts say find­ing work can be dif­fi­cult for peo­ple with crim­i­nal con­vic­tions yet be­ing in em­ploy­ment is known to re­duce the risk of re­of­fend­ing.

In a bid to solve the prob­lem a year-long pi­lot was set up at Dal­dowie Train­ing Cen­tre to al­low of­fend­ers to learn new skills and boost their chance of get­ting work.

The Recre­ate scheme, which is run by Com­mu­nity Safety Glas­gow, proved suc­cess­ful and fund­ing from Po­lice Scot­land al­lowed it to move to an area of land where vol­un­teers built new raised beds and laid a pa­tio. The garden has nu­mer­ous plots which are used by a wide range of dif­fer­ent groups.

Peo­ple can be re­ferred to Recre­ate af­ter com­plet­ing a Com­mu­nity Pay­back Or­der ei­ther by so­cial work, a job cen­tre or by self-re­fer­ral. Some vol­un­teers have lived chaotic lives for years but the garden is a peace­ful place where they feel safe.

They spend a few weeks learn­ing about hor­ti­cul­ture and garden main­te­nance while staff try to find them six month place­ments in ar­eas such as con­struc­tion, wood work­ing, ve­hi­cle main­te­nance or land­scap­ing. They also re­ceive one-to-one men­tor­ing sup­port and make use of em­ploy­a­bil­ity and sup­port ser­vices.

A high num­ber go on to gain em­ploy­ment, re­turn to ed­u­ca­tion or are ac­cepted on to other pro­grammes af­ter com­plet­ing their place­ments.

For­mer vol­un­teer Ju­lian, 35, landed a job with the city coun­cil’s as­sisted garden main­te­nance team af­ter dis­cov­er­ing a love of gar­den­ing through work­ing at Recre­ate.

He said: “Af­ter com­plet­ing my Com­mu­nity Pay­back Or­der it was re­ally dis­heart­en­ing ap­ply­ing for lots of jobs and never hear­ing back. I was re­ally down but when I joined Recre­ate I found I loved be­ing out in the garden, the staff were non-judge­men­tal and I learned a lot about hard land­scap­ing, prop­a­ga­tion, first aid and look­ing af­ter plants.”

Com­mu­nity Safety Glas­gow chair­man Jim Cole­man said: “Help­ing peo­ple get their lives back on track by im­prov­ing their em­ploy­a­bil­ity and boost­ing their self-worth can help stop re­of­fend­ing and that is good for ev­ery­one.”

Ex-vol­un­teer Ju­lian found his love of gar­den­ing through Recre­ate

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