Wooden reindeer are not something you would normally associate with teenagers in trouble. But young people under the supervision of Dorset County Council’s youth offending team (YOT) have been working hard to create some Christmas cheer.
One way young offenders can say sorry for their behaviour is by giving something back to the community. In Dorchester, a herd of wooden reindeer have been carefully hand crafted by young people at the YOT’s workshop. Some are being sold on behalf of the YOT through Poundbury Garden Centre and all money from sales will go direct to local charities, chosen by the victims of the young offenders.
So far over 80 reindeer, all unique and all of different sizes, have been made. They are being sold for between £5 and £35 each and range from 15cm high to almost four feet.
One of the young offenders aged 16 said: “It’s been a useful skill to learn and I hope it will bring a lot of festive cheer to families at Christmas. It’s good to give something back to the community. I’ve learnt if you put your mind to it you can create something good out of scrap materials.”
The Dorset YOT works with young offenders by preventing offending, reducing re-offending and by increasing victim and public confidence. The idea of community based reparation is that the young person undertakes an activity which will benefit the wider community.
Clive Hawkins, Manager, Dorset Youth Offending Team said: “Our young offenders are aged anything between 14 and 17 years of age. This kind of practical, direct community reparation gives them all something to work towards, teaches practical skills and gives the young people something to be very proud of.”
Rebecca Knox, Cabinet member for Children’s Services said: “Giving young people chances to do something they would never have done before is a really good way of showing them there are choices, positive opportunities for them to make a difference which helps others but importantly helps them get back on track, building confidence and hope. As a community, we need to nurture and encourage young people, help them to change their lives away from offending and show them there are other choices.”
Most of the materials used to make the reindeer have been donated.