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Wigan's young offenders are Making Good
Tuesday 22nd December, 2009

People from across the Borough are being invited to suggest how young offenders can make amends for their actions.
Making Good is a new Government website which aims to showcase youth reparation work as well as providing a central destination for the public to suggest suitable community projects.

Between now and the end of January 2010, people will be able to nominate suggestions on-line, which so far have included the clearing of a public space in Hindley where anti-social behaviour was common-place.

After meeting a resident affected by anti-social behaviour near his home, one youth from Wigan who took part in reparation activity says:

"It was good to do something for the man. Speaking to him has made me think about how I behaved and that what I thought was a laugh was really upsetting for him."

A local resident who benefitted from reparation activity carried out in his community says:
"I went out to see the two lads and could not believe how hard they were working. They said they had been involved in drinking there but that they didn't realise how miserable their behaviour made me and my wife feel."

Another local resident affected by anti-social behaviour says:
"Society demands retribution but there are many ways of achieving this, not simply the obvious option of incarceration. It should always go hand in hand with changing negative patterns of behaviour and encouraging greater participation in the community. This system of restorative justice gives young people the chance to face up to the consequences of their actions, allowing them to understand the impact they make, good and bad, and in so doing encouraging them to develop maturity, learn new skills and raise their aspirations."

Cllr. Susan Loudon, Wigan Council's cabinet champion for children and young people says:
"The Making Good initiative is a practical way of bringing added value to the youth justice system, benefitting both the individuals involved and the wider community. Reparation projects not only provide often much-needed skills to young people, they also serve to build confidence and develop personal esteem. The community also benefits directly, in the short-term from the projects undertaken, but also in the longer-term as more youths are diverted from anti-social behaviour and encouraged to make positive contributions to society."

To be considered, projects need to benefit the local community and offer meaningful education or employment opportunities to young people, enabling them to learn new, transferable skills. Projects can include for instance:

- Making benches for local parks
- Clearing churchyards and alleyways
- Working in libraries, labelling and filing books
- Renovating and planting community gardens
- Running an allotment growing vegetables for local schools
- Litter picking in parks, gardens and woods
- Volunteering at a local adult day centre

Whilst the suggestions can be ambitious, involving groups of young people on long-term projects, all ideas submitted must be realistic and achievable for the local Youth Offending Team to deliver.

All projects need to be stand-alone, not taking work form others. Likewise, ideas must be non-profit making and comply with Health & Safety requirements.

The two-month initiative, launched by the Youth Justice Board, is currently being piloted across 19 Youth Offending Teams in the North West and, if successful, will be rolled out across England and Wales in 2010.

For more information, go to: www.yjb.gov.uk/en-gb/yjs/MakingGood/

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