Young offenders pay back community with wildlife work

Young offenders have given back to the community by lending a hand at a wildlife project in Fairlight, near Hastings.

And their visits to Hastings Wild Things, a Natural England’s Access to Nature project based at RSPCA Mallydams Wood, culminated in the presentation of dormouse boxes they made.

Over the past few months, youngsters ordered by courts to carry out community work have been developing the woodland, helping to clear some of the rhododendron from the site.

As well as clearing the paths for visitors, their work has created space for flowers to bloom, insects to thrive and the habitat of the nationally rare dormouse, which inhabits Mallydams Wood, to expand.

Anna Herrieven, Youth Engagement Officer for the Hastings Wild Things project, was approached by East Sussex County Council’s Youth Offending Team and was happy to provide support for the young people carrying out reparation work.

She said: “The most recent work by the Reparation Team has been the building of 20 fantastic dormouse boxes to put into the woodland here. The boxes will be installed by a group of students from a local secondary school and will aid their learning about dormice as an endangered species. We will number each box and let the Reparation Team know when they become inhabited and how many babies are born.”

“I have been really pleased with the work that Reparation Team and the Hastings Wild Things Project have achieved together and I look forward to arranging more group visits later this year. Every time we meet up a new plan seems to be hatched. It’s a pleasure working with a team that has so many creative and positive ideas.”

As well as the work carried out on site, the Reparation Team has donated items made by young people in their workshop which have been sold during Open Wood events. The money raised has benefited the RSPCA Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre and the young people have helped to create the Welly and Waterproof Drying Room by clearing, cleaning and painting an old store room.

Do you have a local project that would benefit from support? The Reparation Team is looking for projects, such as painting or gardening in public areas or for charities. For more information contact Jane Tamba, Reparation Co-ordinator on 01323 466733 or e-mail her at