Cyrenians charity praised for work in Falkirk with offenders

The Cyrenians charity were praised for the work they do with offenders in the local area particularly through their work in Falkirk’s Dollar Park.

Monday, 10th February 2020, 3:36 pm

A meeting of Falkirk Council’s external scrutiny committee heard that the charity was a “strong partner” for Falkirk Council’s justice service.

They specialise in working with offenders to give them skills to get into employment and off a pathway that can often lead to long-term unemployment, poor housing, substance abuse and reoffending.

Projects include Dollar Park’s walled garden which has been transformed in recent years by the Cyrenians charity working with people on community payback orders.

Offenders also worked with others to recreate the park’s landmark floral clock.

Justice services manager Ali Walls told councillors: “They are a really strong partner for us because they work well with the service users who have very complex needs and are very hard to engage with.

“The Cyrenians are very experienced in employment and training and they work well to develop skills and meet people’s needs.”

The meeting heard that the charity will work with anyone in the justice system and can help them  get SQA accredited qualifications.

They can also help improve interview skills, create CVs and help people deal with disclosure of convictions and other barriers offenders will face when trying to find a job.

Ms Walls added: “They also have a peer mentoring service which trains people and gives them skills to support others.”

Councillors heard that not only had offenders completed 2530 unpaid work hours with the Cyrenians in the walled garden last year, they had also gone on to complete 691.5 hours voluntary work as people were inspired to continue helping.

She said: “Some finished the unpaid work they were ordered to do and went on to do some voluntary hours. I think that speaks volumes about the organisation and the value our service users are getting.”

The Cyrenians also operate the FareShare scheme which distributes food to those in need, including service users, at no cost to the council.

Councillors heard that the money to fund the services comes in a ringfenced grant from Scottish government.

Members were keen to find out if people going into paid employment helped to reduce offending and were assured it did.

Ms Walls added: “But getting them into employment is not simple and it depends where people are on their individual journey. There are a whole host of issues going on that can be very complex.”