Offenders help turn empty houses into homes with 20,000 hours of unpaid work

community work: An offender doing work as part of a community payback scheme.
community work: An offender doing work as part of a community payback scheme.
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OFFENDERS are paying their dues and rebuilding their lives by helping to turn empty houses in Sunderland into homes.

Those ordered to carry out community payback work as part of their court sentences have put in more than 20,000 hours of free labour on estates in the city in over last year, doing jobs including cutting back bushes and litter-picking.

By working together, local people in Sunderland have been able to see real improvements.

Mick O’Neill of Northumbria Community Rehabilitation Company

More than 30 houses have been revamped for new tenants who might struggle to work on the houses themselves, reducing the risk of them becoming eyesores and vulnerable to vandalism.

The programme is overseen by Northumbria Community Rehabilitation Company, a Newcastle-based organisation delivering probation services in the area and now working with Sunderland housing firm Gentoo on a project to redecorate and improve empty properties.

Mick O’Neill, the company’s community payback co-ordinator, said: “Community payback is an excellent example of partnership working between us and Gentoo.

“By working together, local people in Sunderland have been able to see real improvements.

Ian Porter, executive director of property for Gentoo, said: “Community payback is a great opportunity for offenders to help make a difference.

“By engaging with local businesses and learning new skills, they can not only give something back to their local community, but they can also start building a brighter future for themselves.”

Offenders convicted in courts are often given requirements to do unpaid work as part of community orders, alongside courses to boost their job prospects and skills to reduce their chances of reoffending.