Offenders ‘building blocks’ to restore North Yorkshire’s dry stone walls

Offenders ‘building blocks’ to restore North Yorkshire’s dry stone walls image

A team of offenders in North Yorkshire are restoring the region’s distinctive dry stone walls in Upper Nidderdale as part of the Building Blocks community scheme.

The conservation training project, managed by the Humberside, Lincolnshire & North Yorkshire Community Rehabilitation Company (HLNY CRC) as part of Community Payback, has involved teams of people on unpaid work orders repairing and rebuilding dry stone walls – one of the defining features of North Yorkshire landscape.

Eight former offenders from Harrogate on Community Payback are completing an eight week dry stone walling course led by experienced walling professionals. At the end of the course, the trainees will be assessed by Craven College and will receive a qualification if they meet the required standard.

The Building Blocks scheme is a joint project between Nidderdale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Craven College and HLNY CRC – running as part of the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership, with funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund and the North Yorkshire Police Crime Commissioner’s (PCC) Community Fund.

Professional instructors ensure that all the walls built through the scheme are constructed to a good structural standard, which will withstand the test of time.

Liz Rushton, HLNY CRC community payback manager, said: “This is a positive way for people on probation to payback into local communities, while at the same time helping them to improve their long-term employment prospects –one of the most important factors in breaking the reoffending cycle.”

Iain Mann, Scheme Manager at the Upper Nidderdale Landscape Partnership, said: “This is a fantastic example of partnership working, delivering a project that both helps look after the countryside and provides valuable training to help the people involved get their lives back on track.”

Over the four years of the project, the aim is to repair more than 1,000 metres of dry stone walls to enhance Upper Nidderdale’s landscape and provide more than 90 offenders  on Community Payback the opportunity to achieve a vocational training qualification.

Martin Davies, chief executive of HLNY CRC, said: “Community Payback is a punishment for breaking the law but it is also a way for people on probation to learn new skills and to support their rehabilitation.

“Working on Building Block and other similar projects across North Yorkshire means offenders not only give something back to the community but it teaches them valuable practical skills which can lead to future employment.”

Over the past 12 months HLNY CRC has supervised a wide range of community payback projects across North Yorkshire, Lincolnshire and Humberside bringing real benefits to the communities.

*The Community Payback Team at HLNY CRC would like to hear about other projects which residents think will make a real difference to their community.