A team of ex-offenders are helping to turn north Manchester into a green oasis.
The group, called Your Environmental Team (YET), is a rapid response service set up to tackle the area’s environmental needs: cleaning up ‘grot spots’, bringing neglected green spaces up to scratch and sorting out broken fences.
The team has been created by a partnership of eight social housing providers across the north of the city, including Northwards. Managed by the environmental charity Groundwork, YET is made up of three eco-friendly ex-offenders, who are being given valuable experience in the world of work. The team are paid minimum wage, and are funded by contributions from the eight housing providers. The scheme allows the ex-offenders – all from the local area – to get themselves back on their feet.
The aim of the project is to improve the local environment and stop the cycle of crime. Claire Tyrrell, head of neighbourhood services for Northwards, said: “It's great news that we are rolling out the environmental service across north Manchester.
"By working together with other housing providers, we are helping to make our city clean and green.
"The service also helps to get ex-offenders back into paid employment, giving them valuable experience and helping them regain their confidence."
The scheme is being run by Blue Sky, a non-for-profit company established by the charity Groundwork. It was set up to give paid work to people coming out of prison. Set up five years ago, Blue Sky has already employed nearly 500 ex-offenders and of those, less than 15 per cent have re-offended. The statistics show that the scheme reduces reoffending – it’s a quarter of the national average.
Paul Leese, a supervisor on the scheme, said: “We have already worked on rendering a wall in Keeley Close, Newton Heath, which the residents asked us to do.
“We have got great feedback on the work already. The guys are great and work really hard.”
Other social housing providers behind YET include Adactus Housing Association, Arawak Walton, Great Places, Guinness Northern Counties, Johnnie Johnson, Places for People and Tung Sing.