Offenders carrying out Community Payback have been praised for helping maintain a Bolton football club’s grounds.
Teams of up to eight people completing unpaid work orders have been working at Horwich St Mary’s juniour football club for more than a year.
The on-going relationship between the Cheshire & Greater Manchester Community Rehabilitation Company, which runs Community Payback, and the football club has been a perfect match.
Community Payback is a punishment made by the courts. People can be sentenced from 40 to 300 hours for a range of crimes, and then provide their labour to complete tasks that benefit the community.
People on probation have painted and decorated the club’s facilities, installed steps, dug drainage and maintained the extensive grounds which encompass the pitches.
Lesley Allon, St Mary’s club secretary, said: “Quite simply, we couldn’t have managed without the support we’ve had from Community Payback.
“We have to do all our own fundraising, we are all volunteers, and the work Community Payback has done would have cost us a fortune.
“Everyone at the club is over the moon about the support we have received.”
Anthony Toone is one of eight men undertaking Community Payback at the club.
He said: “We’ve all made mistakes, so I don’t mind that I got the order. Carrying out tasks like this, at a club that needs the support and where you know you are appreciated, it makes all the difference.”
The club runs 25 juniour football teams, catering for boys and girls aged from under sevens through to open age. They have more than 300 players on their books.
Lesley’s husband Tom is club chairman, having first played for the club in 1964.
He added: “I often speak with the people we have here on Community Payback and tell them how much their efforts are appreciated.
“They are willing to do all manner of tasks and it has made such a difference to our club.
“Community Payback is definitely giving back to the community – we are delighted.”
Mark Pimblett, CGM CRC Community Payback supervisor, oversees the work carried out by people carrying out their orders.
He said: “We have been working here for a long time and that’s good because our service users are able to take ownership of their work and also take pride in a job well done.
“People can pick up new skills and they also appreciate the respect they get because they know their work has made a lot of people very happy.
“For those service users we have who are unemployed, this type of experience is extremely helpful and can help open doors into paid work.”