Probation initiative sees offenders help revamp Belfast community centre
Offenders are helping to revamp a community centre located at a Belfast interface as part of a novel probation initiative.
A number of young men with convictions, ranging from assault to driving offences, are undertaking a clean-up of the City Life Centre which straddles the lower Shankill and Falls.
The regeneration project is also taking in the grounds around the church-based centre.
The offenders on supervision are part of a Probation Board (PBNI) work squad.
Pastor Jack McKee, from the New Life Church, welcomed the project.
"The work carried out by community service squads helps us ensure that the church and the community centre is clean and tidy for those who use it," he said.
"We know that people can change and transform their lives. I hope that by being given this chance to make reparation and pay back to the community, those young men through probation will change their lives and become active citizens."
Eithne McIlroy, PBNI's assistant director for Belfast, said: "The young men on community service at this project have been convicted of assault and driving offences.
"Through community service they are being given the opportunity to make reparation for what they have done. The work is hard and demanding but those who are carrying out that work know that it benefits the community and they get a sense of fulfilment from that.
"We want to ensure that we don't see them back through our doors in the future. We know that community service is one of the most successful sentences in preventing further reoffending. Our aim is to ensure they learn their lesson and turn their back on crime."
The Probation Board NI supervises around 4,400 people and more than 600 community service orders each year.