Unpaid Work teams give back at Christmas.
East Ayrshire Unpaid Work (UPW) teams worked in partnership with Crossroads Ayrshire Food Hub for two sessions in the lead up to Christmas.
Teams serving Community Payback Orders (CPOs) learned how to forage in the grounds of the Hub and local areas for natural materials including pinecones, willow, rhododendron leaves and fir. The Hub then facilitated a workshop on how to craft the foraged items into Christmas wreaths.
Lauren Clark, Coordinator of Ayrshire Food Hub said, “The wreaths look amazing, the teams did a great job”.
Michelle Connell, UPW Co-ordinator, attended both sessions and said, “It was no easy task and required a good level of skill, which they all managed.”
The wreaths were then gifted to several charities and community members who the Unpaid Work teams had supported over the year, as recognition and thanks for supporting the delivery of the service.
Two residents in receipt of the garden maintenance service – which supports predominately older and disabled people who are of poor health or on low income. Residents are provided help with grass cutting and weeding, and the regular visits provide an opportunity to combat social isolation.
Lilyhill Gardens in Kilmarnock – a supported living complex for adults with mental health and physical difficulties, provided by the Richmond Fellowship charity. Unpaid Work teams were involved in improving their communal garden and making the outdoor space more accessible.
Local Scout Leader in Dalmellington – Unpaid Work teams regularly assist with environmental tasks including garden maintenance, litter picking and outdoor painting of areas such as Dalmellington Scout Hall, memorial garden, the historic outdoor curling rink, and other conservation areas.
East Ayrshire Foodbank – Unpaid Work teams assist the foodbank weekly to collect and distribute food items to local communities. Nicola Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of the CVO said, “We could not manage without the continued support each year from the Unpaid Work teams”.
One service user said, “I didn’t think I would like this task but was humbled to see the reaction of those who received our wreaths”.
UPW Supervisor Jim Hume said he had “one happy, delighted lady” who became quite emotional at the kindness and thought put into the task.
North Ayrshire Unpaid Work service have an established Income Generation Programme. This programme allows woodwork skills and knowledge to be passed from supervisors to service users, where they can then develop and build their own skills and confidence in tackling woodwork. Dependent upon the service user’s ability it also gives them the skillset to make wooden items such as garden benches, picnic tables and planters as well as snowmen and reindeer.
Every year the Unpaid Work teams collect broken branches and small logs from agreed areas within North Ayrshire. These are then dried out within the workshop and used to make affordable reindeer that are sold to the local community at the Unpaid Work Christmas Fayre or by advertisement on flyers and social media.
Tracy Nimmo, Team Manager said, “In late September 2023 we tasked a supervisor with creating an eco-friendly snowman that involved fallen wood and dowels as opposed to nails or screws and he was successful in doing so.”
Unpaid Work teams learned how to make the snowmen using saws, sanders, and drills in a safe manner, as well as working with special glue, mallets, and dowels. Faces were drawn on the snowmen, with eyes and scarfs fixed on. Service users were able to take these basic skills home and recreate these snowmen with their own children and families.
One service user said, “It was great to learn a Christmas activity, something I can do at home with the kids, this isn’t a lot of money, and I can easily do with my 4 kids. I always thought things like this were hard, goes to show that every day is a school day”
Tracy Nimmo said, “the service has been pleased with the feedback, people collecting snowmen have described them as ‘amazing’, ‘unique’ and ‘quirky’.”
All monies raised from the sale of snowmen and reindeer is put towards the end of financial year donation to local charities in North Ayrshire. The charities are nominated by service users and justice staff. This way, the service users who are making the items are involved in nominating who they would like to see benefit from their hard work.
South Ayrshire Unpaid Work teams worked in partnership with River Garden Auchencruive, a charity that helps people in the early stages of recovery from alcohol and drug addiction.
Teams serving CPO’s have been undertaking grounds maintenance work as part of the extensive ongoing improvement programme and were tasked with felling several trees. The Unpaid Work teams were able to remove several trees and used these to construct reindeer and snowmen herdsmen on the lead up to Christmas.
Teams learned how to take accurate measurements, how to use hand drills and saws safely, as well as the use of specialist glue during the construction stage.
River Garden were selected as a beneficiary as they provided the wood which allowed the teams to make the reindeer and snowmen. River Garden hosted their annual Christmas Faye and were able to sell the items raising money for the charity.
The Ayrshire Hospice, a charity providing specialist care and service to those affected by life limiting illness had contacted the Unpaid Work team. The service was able to donate several reindeer and snowmen for the charity to sell, which generated over £300.
One donator said, “Our addition to the family stood proud over the festive period – thank you”.
Dean Barlas, Unpaid Work Coordinator said, “I spoke to the teams who were involved in this work, and they felt they had really benefited from it. One service user told me that, when he went home, his partner had bought flat pack furniture and he confidently built it up. He told me he had never attempted anything like that before and had assumed it was beyond him.”
“Another service user asked about the possibility of restoring furniture and as a result of this we have contacted a local charity, Community Gift Exchange, who restore donated furniture, and are putting together a plan to take on restoration and upgrading work.”
A Community Payback Order is a sentence imposed by the Courts. It offers Courts a disposal for use as a first response and for use with those who have defaulted on payment of a fine. A Community Payback Order is a sentence served in the community rather than in a prison.
An unpaid work requirement gives the person the opportunity to contribute in a positive way to local communities. Work undertaken as part of unpaid work does not replace paid employment but enhances work carried out by the local authority and community groups.