Young people paying back

Published Thursday, 30 September 2021

A project designed for children & young people to pay back to the community is helping to create a welcoming woodland for whole families to enjoy.

Allesley Park woodland

The Youth Offending Service (YOS) began working at Allesley Park in 2019 following discussions with Coventry City Council Park Services.

They looked at how they could work with children & young people who were subject to Court Orders or Out of Court Disposals (OOCD) that involved them doing work to help repair the harm caused to the community by their actions.

The outcome has been a practical project which has seen numerous children & young people aged between 14 and 18 working to transform a previously dark and unwelcoming area of woodland in the park.

They have been given supervision and training in traditional woodland management techniques and have carried out important tasks including coppicing and thinning of trees.

Carl Woodend, YOS Support Officer, said: “This has been a really positive project. It’s given a number of benefits to the young people, they’ve been learning new skills, it’s great to be outdoors, enhancing the woodland area of the park, creating opportunities for families to build dens & creating wildlife habitats and they’ve been hearing lots of nice comments from people walking through the park who appreciate the work they’ve been doing.”

The area of woodland is parallel to the A45 on the far side of the park. The group have cleared the footpath making it much easier to walk through, and the necessary coppicing and thinning has let in more light and is helping wildlife in the process.

It’s clear the efforts are attracting more visitors to the area as log pile dens have begun to spring up and someone has even created a piece of woodland art and dream catchers hang from some of the trees.

As well as working with children & young people who have been given Court Orders or subject to OOCD, YOS also speaks regularly to victims of crime about what would help repair the harm that has been caused.

Cabinet Member for Children’s Services, Cllr Pat Seaman, said: “I know what a priority the Youth Offending Service places on restorative justice, providing opportunities for young people to help atone for their actions.

“This is a really important and impressive project. Not only is it helping the young people taking part, but it’s also making a real difference for visitors to the park who have seen the environment transformed.

“I hope that by learning new skills and hearing the appreciation of others, those taking part can see a positive future ahead.”

Phase 1 of the project is now complete, and a second phase has started which involves removing dead Elm Trees from a hedgerow before moving onto the removal of foliage behind the Dovecotes and then woodland management at Allesley Castle nearby.

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