A church in Bradford which has benefited from significant restoration work by offenders on community payback has hosted a lunch for ‘service users’ who worked on the project to thank them for all their hard work.
The popular Westgate Baptist Church on Carlisle Road in Manningham has had a dramatic makeover thanks to a team of offenders. The group has spent more than 5,000 hours renovating the church is continuing to clean up the grounds outside the centre.
The church has benefited from significant refurbishment work by people on the community payback scheme, who have been painting and decorating the building as well as giving the kitchen a makeover.
Deacon Stafford Kelly from the centre approached West Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC) a year ago asking for help to spruce up the church.
Dave Finney, placement supervisor at West Yorkshire CRC, said: “We started in the main church by removing any loose plaster, re-plastered the walls and then painted the whole room with some very intricate paint work on the columns.
“The first phase of the renovation is almost complete so that the church congregation can once again take pride in this beautiful building and open it up for the whole community to use and appreciate.”
“In its heyday we had a Boys Brigade, drama group, worship group and brownies but it dwindled. By opening our doors wider to the community and not just for worship we have saved our church.”
Mr Kelly said the centre has branched out during the past few years by launching new groups to welcome more residents to the church.
He said: “In its heyday we had a Boys Brigade, drama group, worship group and brownies but it dwindled. By opening our doors wider to the community and not just for worship we have saved our church.”
One of the most successful new projects is a Wednesday soup kitchen which serves up a hot lunch to vulnerable people so the newly refurbished kitchen is a welcome addition to the centre.
The community payback scheme helps rehabilitate offenders who have received a court sentence including a community order or a suspended sentence order.
Staff from West Yorkshire CRC supervise people as they complete projects which help them to make a contribution to the communities in which they live .
Placement coordinator Mohammed Bashir said the scheme can also help offenders gain valuable new skills. “Community Payback schemes like the one delivered at Westgate Baptist Church provide a means by which offenders learn new skills to support their rehabilitation and future employment prospects, and also put something back into their local community.”
Across West Yorkshire people complete about half a million hours of unpaid work a year on projects including maintaining parks, assisting sports clubs and helping to run groups for the elderly and vulnerable adults.
*The Community Payback Team in West Yorkshire would like to hear about other projects which residents think will make a real difference to their community. More About Community Payback