Helping hand for local projects

Projects across Aberdeenshire have been given a helping hand thanks to offenders serving Community Payback orders with a requirement of unpaid work.

From shops and schools to community centres and flood defence walls, members of the unpaid work team have been busy carrying out work in Stonehaven, Ellon and Inverurie in recent months.

At Stonehaven, a project to restore a supporting wall as part of a flood defence barrier has recently been completed by the team.

The wall was swept away in the November 2009 flooding and prevents water spilling into residents’ gardens from the River Carron during high flows.

Scottish Flood Forum Director Paul Hendy helped provide advice and support in the town following the 2009 flooding and said: “The importance to the community of this local defence cannot be underestimated.

“Not only will it assist homes and business premises from possible future flooding, but also bring immeasurable reduction in fear and anxiety to local people every time heavy rain affects Stonehaven.”

The Garioch Charities Shop in Inverurie, which raises money to support local voluntary organisations and international appeals, benefited from a complete redecoration thanks to the hard work of the participating offenders.

Chairperson of the shop’s trustees, Sue Kinsey, is delighted with the work and said that the group who decorated the shop had provided a good service for the community and she really appreciated their efforts.

Esslemont School has also had a makeover with the unpaid work team gradually sanding, painting and plastering their way through the building.

Community learning and development worker Sally Sheehan said that although the building has great space and an ideal location it was starting to look a little uncared for.

She said: “People who use the building are delighted with its new look – all in all the unpaid work team has made a huge difference for local folk who use the facility.”

Sally is also the secretary for Slains and Collieston Community Council, and had more praise for the team following some work on the Collieston Community Centre which she said was completed very quickly and to a very high standard.

She added: “As a very small community we would not have been able to achieve this without the wonderful help and support we received from the unpaid work team.

“We would highly recommend the group to other communities.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of adult and criminal justice services, Philip English, said: “I am delighted to hear such positive feedback about the projects the unpaid work team have carried out.

“These are very worthy endeavours and it is great to hear first-hand the benefits they are bringing to our communities.”

If you belong to a charitable or non-profit making organisation and need assistance with a community project please contact projects officer Gillian Christie on 01569 768338.