South Scotland MSP Colin Smyth and Dumfries and Galloway Council Co-Leader and Labour SWS Committee spokesperson Cllr Linda Dorward visited Annan Community Payback Unit last week. Colin Smyth also toured the Community Payback building in King Street in Dumfries.
The local politicians got the chance to meet with staff and service users, as well as touring the Annan and Dumfries facilities.
The recently opened centre in Annan is based next to the town’s cemetery and has a range of facilities, including greenhouses and is also home to two rescue ponies.
Colin Smyth said: “It was fantastic to be able to visit the Annan and Dumfries sites and learn more about the brilliant work being undertaken by the Community Payback team in our region.
“The whole team are passionate about what they do, and it was great to see this first hand. Community Payback is about so much more than just jobs like grass cutting, and projects such as the one in Annan are proof of this.
“The work the team do here in Dumfries and Galloway is recognised across Scotland as exemplary in terms of not just ensuring people fulfil the requirements the courts place on them, but crucially supporting people to rehabilitate and re-integrate
“I am looking forward to seeing the future plans and will continue to give my support where I can.”
Linda Dorward added: “The Annan Community Payback Unit is a brilliant facility and it was great to speak to the team and service users, and learn more about the work being carried out in the area.
“It was also really great to hear about the team’s ambitious plans for the Annan Unit which emphasise the importance of building strong links with the local community.”
Debbie Armstrong, Justice Senior Social Worker said: “The Community Payback Unit was relocated to its current site in March 2022. In the eight months since we took over the site in Annan Cemetery, we have been busy.
“The individuals and groups on unpaid work have landscaped the entire site, built raised sandstone flower beds, erected a steel canopy for undercover work, reconditioned an existing polytunnel to grow fruit and vegetables, that are then shared in the local community.
“Unpaid work has cleared the pathways along Brydekirk Road to ensure the cemetery is accessible by the footpath.
“The site donates large quantities of kindling through local community councils to share with those who need it.
“The teams have recently taken on rescue ponies for use in Equine Therapy, building a fenced paddock and stable and learning about pony care. Equine Therapy is delivered through the partnership with Mossburn Community Farm to individuals with complex mental and emotional health needs.”
As well as the outstanding work at the Annan site, the unpaid workers have undertaken projects in Annan itself, such as the benched seating area at Dick’s Well and help with the ongoing development of Annan Harbour.
The team are hoping to continue to develop their links with the local community and are looking to establish a community garden and café on site in Spring 2023.
With the cost-of-living crisis impacting on many in the local community the team are looking to share their home-grown resources to help others.
Justice Social Work in delivering unpaid work balance the complex needs of individuals to achieve person centred outcomes that support community integration.