YOUNG OFFENDERS have been helping to improve facilities at a young people's outdoor centre in the Yorkshire Dales, as part of a pioneering rehabilitation scheme.
As part of the scheme, run by North Yorkshire's Youth Offending Team (YOT), the offenders have been working unpaid to improve facilities at charity-run Carlton Lodge outdoor activity centre, in Carlton Miniott, near Thirsk.
Their 'reparation' order has seen them clearing pathways to ease access for disabled people, strengthening the banks of a lake to create a safe fishing and pond-dipping area and giving the sports hall a makeover.
The "reparation scheme" aims to get young offenders to pay back their debt to society while teaching them the value of a hard day's work.
Simon Hills, chief executive of North Yorkshire Youth, the charity that runs Carlton Lodge, said: "The work the young people are doing is really worthwhile. It's not just about punishment; it teaches young people that there is another way to do things. They're learning the value of work, making new friends and they get to see the results of the work they have done, giving them something to be proud of."
For one young offender in particular - 18 year old Ryan Turner from Great Ayton - the course has been a real eye-opener. "What have I got out of it? Hard graft, blisters and a good night's kip, mainly!" he quips. "It wasn't easy but it's been really good. I've met new people and learnt new skills."
These new skills will come in handy for Ryan, who is applying to go back to college to study joinery. He's returning soon to Carlton Lodge to construct new fencing over the coming weeks and the work he completes at the lodge may be used as work-based evidence for his qualification.
"Our ultimate aim is to break the cycle of offending and re-offending," said Lesley Ingleson, youth offending team manager.
"Their reparation here isn't just punishment - it's an opportunity for personal and social development, with outdoor activities as the vehicle.
"We're keen to develop our reparation services further and we're soon going to be appointing two reparation development officers."
- Photo shows: (left to right): Lesley Ingleson, youth offending team manager; Robb Preston, 18, Harrogate; young offenders Ryan Turner, 18, Great Ayton; Simon Hills, chief executive of North Yorkshire Youth and Carlton Lodge worker, Simon Gifford.