Page last updated at 15:04 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

Offenders iron out bad behaviour

Young offender ironing
This young offender said he enjoyed giving something back to the community

Ironing has been added to a list of punishments for young offenders told to complete community service orders.

A scheme in Wrexham has seen 14-17-year-olds ironing clothes donated to Salvation Army charity shops.

Wrexham Youth Justice Service (WYJS) said the project had been so successful there were plans to extend it.

One 16-year-old offender said he enjoyed giving something back to the community, but added: "I didn't tell any of my friends."

The offender, from Wrexham, added: "We had to collect clothes from the charity shop and then iron them to be sold.

"I did it for a couple of months. At first I thought 'This is mad.' I expected to be doing painting or something like that.

"But it wasn't that bad. It's about giving something back to the community.

It builds their confidence as they have to deliver the ironing and communicate with members of staff
Ani Sutton, Wrexham Youth Justice Service

"I didn't tell any of my friends because they'd probably all laugh. It's a girls' thing, isn't it?

"I've done some of my own ironing as well."

The WYJS, which works with young people aged between eight and 17, said the scheme aimed to build offenders' confidence.

It said a common response among offenders was: "I'm not ironing, that's women's work."

The scheme cost less than 100, which the WYJS used to buy irons, ironing boards and baskets.

The first phase saw young offenders ironing once a week for up to two months, preparing donated clothes to be sold in Salvation Army shops.

Ani Sutton, operational manager at WYJS, said: "The Salvation Army was concerned at first, but now it is impressed with the behaviour of the young people.

"It builds their [offenders'] confidence as they have to deliver the ironing and communicate with members of staff."

"It's a cheap venture with the potential to grow. We'd like other charities to get involved.

"We're hoping to develop this further."

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