Rainbow Services Working To Transform Lives
Rainbow Services Woodwork Workshop works closely with offenders to help turn their lives around and teach them useful skills. Reducing re-offending and preventing crime from happening in the first place are core objectives of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, and Rainbow has received funding of £2,765 from the PCC’s Community Safety Development Fund to help their work.
Based in Harlow, Rainbow is a charitable organisation which moved to their present site four years ago, converting a café and a conference room into a workshop where offenders on Unpaid Work court orders could learn the skills of making things from wood. The wood is all donated – mostly recycled pallets – and those enrolled on the programme started by building the workbenches they all now use. The finished items are sold on a donation basis.
Rainbow Services works with offenders from 18 upwards, including some people with disabilities and the team has found that older offenders often act as mentors for the younger offenders.
Wendy Letch, Rainbow Services Operations Manager, said: ‘The PCC funding has helped provide a better work environment and extra equipment for the individuals to learn so many more skills. We want people to go away having learnt something as they find a life that doesn’t involve offending. Even small sums of money are valuable in supporting the work of our volunteers and the people enrolled in the programme who are striving to turn their lives around.”
Nick Alston, Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, said: “The punishment must always fit the crime, but I believe it’s essential that we seek to work with offenders to reduce the chances of their offending again. If we can prevent crime from happening in the first place, there will be fewer victims of crime. I fully support programmes such as Rainbow Services who are working to change the behaviour of offenders by teaching them valuable skills.”
D, a young man in his mid-20s, has only two days left of his 100 hour court order, and had no previous wood working skills when he first arrived. He’s now making a picnic bench for his family and feels he has learnt a lot and has enjoyed the hours in the workshop. He said that you are not given any choice where you serve your hours but felt he had benefited greatly from his time at Rainbow, saying: “I have definitely gained a new skill and enjoyed it, and I’m leaving the programme feeling positive.”
The scheme operates from Tuesday to Saturday, with twelve offenders being able to attend one session per day. Rainbow Services works alongside Essex Community Rehabilitation Company (previously known as Essex Probation) who pass referrals through after conducting an individual risk assessment.
The workshop supervisor, Jason Shaves, dedicates significant amounts of time and effort to the people serving their orders in the Rainbow programme.
Jason said: “Working at Rainbow puts a smile on my face. It’s more than a job to me, and seeing people change their ways is a very satisfying feeling.”
Details of all the projects funded under the PCC’s New Initiatives Fund which is now known as the Community Safety Development Fund, can be seen here.