OFFENDERS have helped spruce up a family centre in Pendle as ‘payback’ to the community for their crimes.

The Grassroots Centre at St Philip’s, Nelson, has been given a facelift, with offenders clearing away more than three tonnes of soil and litter.

And they have also re-painted all the fence posts.

The work has taken place over the past few weeks under the supervision of Probation Trust staff.

Wearing orange hi-visibility vests displaying the Community Payback logo, the group has been working on the site since September.

Suzanne Waddicor, project manager at the centre, said: “I was very impressed with their dedication. The offenders turned up in all weather and really worked hard to transform the area, which had previously looked like a jungle.

“They even painted the fence posts, which hadn’t been done for about twenty years.

“I think it’s a great idea to get offenders doing work like this and giving back to the community after committing crimes.”

The offenders are now planning to compost all of the flower beds to make them fit for horticultural projects early this year.

Lorraine Slater, Lancashire Probation Trust practice manager for Comm- unity Payback, said: “Community Payback gives offenders a routine and some structure, and gets them used to following instructions and working as a team which can help change their behaviour and at the same time pay back a debt to the community in a highly visible way.

“This is hard work, and the offenders have been out in all weather conditions, improving the community for everyone.”

Community Payback is work carried out by offenders in the community as an alternative to a prison sentence.