New workshops let offenders give back

Justice Secretary Michael Matheson (second, right) learns how to refurbish a bike during his tour of the Restorative Justice facility in Bellshill
Justice Secretary Michael Matheson (second, right) learns how to refurbish a bike during his tour of the Restorative Justice facility in Bellshill

The Restorative Justice building in Bellshill has been officially reopened following an extensive refurbishment.

The North Lanarkshire Council facility in Hunter Street now boasts three large workshops to allow supervisors to teach and train offenders for the ‘Skills of the Trades’ programme.

People on Community Payback orders are learning to fix old bicycles rescued from recycling centres and put them back on the roads.

They are also learning about workshop safety, tools, redecorating, woodwork and teamwork to help with the road to rehabilitation.

One of the offenders, Joseph, said: “Everyone makes mistakes, but since I have come here I have been given much more focus in my life, I’m learning new skills and have a structure to my day that was previously missing.

“I’m improving my employment prospects and already got myself a part-time job, so thanks to my time here things are definitely going into the right direction.”

The official opening was carried by Social Work convener Barry McCulloch and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson MSP.

Councillor McCulloch said: “The refurbishment of our Community Payback workshop highlights our commitment to tackling some of the causes of offending, giving people the chance to learn from their mistakes and develop their skills base.

“We work with offenders through community projects and work programmes to help address underlying issues including victim awareness, anger management, alcohol and drug misuse and domestic violence. This valuable educational support helps to reduce further offending and promote good citizenship.”

Mr Matheson added: “Paying back to the community is at the heart of our approach to community justice and projects like the one in Bellshill demonstrates the benefits they bring.

“The evidence shows short prison sentences do little to rehabilitate or reduce reoffending, but community sentences make a big difference.”