Woking Borough Council
Civic OfficesGloucester SquareWokingSurreyGU21 6YL
Telephone: 01483 755855
09 September 2013
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An initiative to control an invasive weed growing in Council-owned sites along the River Hoe in Mayford has been hailed a success, thanks to a partnership with Blue Sky Development and Regeneration, a charity which employs ex-offenders.
The works, which has been running over the past 11 weeks, saw the removal of the highly invasive, non-native weed, Himalayan Balsam, which can severely restrict the growth of more valuable native species if allowed to grow and spread. The works also saw Blue Sky maintain local footpaths and clear fly-tipped material and litter.
Blue Sky Development and Regeneration is a registered charity that finds work for ex-offenders in a number of industries, including grounds maintenance. Their aim is to reduce re-offending and to offer a second chance to some of the most excluded members of society, getting them into jobs in their local area, helping them to contribute to their communities. This scheme will provide employees with valuable experience and training in the grounds maintenance sector, providing them with the social and employment skills necessary to move on to permanent jobs.
Cllr Beryl Hunwicks, Portfolio Holder for Environment and Sustainability, said: "This initiative has been an absolute success. By working in partnership with organisations such as Blue Sky, we are not only able to bring back into use our green spaces, but also provide meaningful work opportunities to local ex-offenders who are keen to get themselves back into permanent employment."
John Chesters, Commercial and Franchise Director at Blue Sky, said: "This opportunity in Woking has provided a fantastic chance for us to establish ourselves in Surrey, and the motivation of the team working in Mayford is testimony to the effect such support can bring. By providing this employment, Woking is also helping a wider partnership of other Surrey organisations to be developed, with two members of this team being referred by Employability."
Blue Sky is now due to start further green space management work at Inkerman Escarpment, Knaphill on Monday 16 September 2013 for a period of three months. This work will involve tree management, scrub clearance, removal of invasive species, clearance of tipped material and reinstatement of footpaths, to improve access and enhance the overall appearance and attractiveness of the site.
For more information about Blue Sky Development and Regeneration please visit www.blueskydevelopment.co.uk