Friday, 4 September 2009

Young offenders make amends through community art project

Local young offenders have been making amends for their past negative behaviour by working to produce a fantastic community garden for a Caerphilly county borough community to enjoy.

Young offenders from the local Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP) have been working on the community garden at the Neuadd St Cattwg Community Hall in Gelligaer, which features a colourful mural depicting scenes of the local area's mining heritage and the nearby Roman Fort.

The garden also features a memorial garden for quiet reflection and a paved area as well as a selection of mosaics and sculptures, making it a very inviting area for local residents to come along and enjoy.

The young people have been working on the project thanks to funding from the Youth Justice Board and Arts Council for a Summer Arts College, which is designed specifically for young offenders working with ISSP who are currently not in education, training or employment.

Cabinet member for the environment, Cllr Lyn Ackerman said, "As well as paying back to the community for their past negative behaviour by providing residents with such a welcome additional community facility, the young people have also benefitted by learning new skills including art, literacy and numeracy and by channeling their energies into something positive.

This in itself is a major factor in preventing future offending behaviour, and I am delighted that the community garden has been so well received by local residents, and I hope they will enjoy the benefits the garden will bring for many years to come."

An event to celebrate the completion of the project was held on Friday (28th August) and was attended by Caerphilly county borough's Mayor, Cllr John Evans, Chief Constable of Gwent Police Mick Giannasi as well as local ward members, representatives from the Welsh Assembly Government, Youth Justice Board and the Community Hall committee.

The Mayor and Chief Constable also presented the young people with certificates of achievement for their Bronze Arts Award as well as certificates of attendance for the reparation project.

Activity Skills Coordinator for ISSP, Amy Thomas said, "The Summer Arts College has been a good experience for the young people who have taken part and we have seen an improvement in their communication and social skills as well as their behaviour.

The young people are extremely proud of what they have achieved and praise should be given to them for the commitment and dedication to the project. The young people having now gained their qualifications are taking forward their skills in employment, training and various other education opportunities.

Their futures are now looking much more positive after being engaged in this community project."

Intensive Supervision and Surveillance Programme (ISSP) is the most rigorous non-custodial intervention available to young offenders. As the name suggests, it combines unprecedented levels of community-based surveillance with a comprehensive and sustained focus on tackling the factors that contribute to the young person's offending behaviour.

For further information, please contact Gwent ISSP on 01495 231 351.


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