RESIDENTS at a Headless Cross sheltered housing scheme have a new sun spot thanks to a pioneering project.

Redditch Council teamed up with HMP Hewell and local contractors RSTS Ltd to build a new sun patio at the back of Evesham Road sheltered housing scheme.

Lee, Mark, Richard and Ollie, four prisoners from Houseblock 8, the open part of HMP Hewell, worked with the contractors to design and build the patio in a week-long ‘Ground Force’ style project.

They created a new patio area, raised planters, a water feature and put up fencing to improve the communal entrance.

The council and the prison have worked together in the past to deliver community-based environmental projects, but this is the first one to involve an outside contractor. The project is part of HMP Hewell’s Restorative Justice Initiative, which aims to repair the harm caused by crime. Offenders are encouraged to take responsibility for the damage done to the community through crime. Projects such as this allow prisoners to give something back, repaying and reassuring the local community.

The offenders who volunteered to take part met with residents and council officers to discuss and plan the patio ahead of work starting.

Lee said: "This project was a refreshing change, being able to do something constructive that the residents wanted done. It was good that they had input and were able to say what they wanted.

"We enjoyed what we did and the contractors we worked with were brilliant. We would like further opportunities like this to give something back to the community.”

Council leader Carole Gandy, who is also a Headless Cross ward councillor, said: “I think this is an excellent project. The residents get a fantastic new facility but, most importantly, the prisoners get a chance to do something positive for the community.”