Fairford Town's Cinder Lane ground.
Fairford Town's Cinder Lane ground.

The community scheme that has been supporting Berkshire’s non league clubs

Community Rehabilitation scheme has been completing projects at Berkshire's non league clubs for years
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Fairford Town's Cinder Lane ground.
Fairford Town's Cinder Lane ground.

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You might not be aware of the work of the Thames Valley Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC), but chances are, if you’ve been to a non league football ground locally over the last decade or so, you’ve witnessed some of their handy work.

Otherwise known as the probation service, the CRC has been providing work parties to non league clubs across the Thames Valley for years at the likes of Binfield, Wallingford Town, Bracknell Town, Sandhurst Town and Burnham, and are always looking for new partners to work with.

Work parties will work inside and out at clubs, completing painting, ground work, mowing and strimming amongst a wide range of activities as the areas non league clubs spruce themselves up during the off season.

Binfield FC club secretary Rob Challis said the Moles had been using the service for several years to support improvement works at Hill Farm Lane by the club’s volunteers: “Thames Valley CRC has been a godsend for the football club for a number of years now helping us to keep the grounds tidy and doing all the jobs that probably wouldn’t get done without their help.

“The work they do for us is mostly outside clearing our banks and ditches all the year-round. All the supervisors are brilliant, aamazingly helpful people who make sure the jobs are really well done. I couldn’t praise them more.”

Thomas Robbins is placement manager for the CRC and said the service works with a wide range of offenders: “We’ve had people with us from 18 to 76. They have a wide range of skills, if there is a skillset in the group we try to make use of it. We have people from all walks of life as well but clubs can be specific about who would be allowed to work depending on the situation. All work is overseen by trained DVS and CBR checked supervisers who have all gone through training courses.

“The groups will work up to 8 hours a day, a 15 minute break in the morning and afternoon and half and hour for lunch, this can of course depend a bit on the weather.

“All ask is for somewhere to sit down, have a cup of tea and some toilets.”

‘The work is enthusiastic’

One project CRC groups have worked on that Robbins is particularly proud of is a new First World War trench experience at Garth Hill College (more information and pictures on the college website here): “We’d been digging and building the trench experience in the grounds of the college and it’s been a huge success.

“We’ve also worked at Forbury Gardens in Reading, the Head Gardener their won a best park award and we were able to help them out. We’ve also been involved with an Eco-brick project – filling up plastic bottles with non-recylables to build a wall.

“We work with a lot of Primary Schools as well at weekends. We can slip in, do the work and get out again. Same with councils, aside from the improvements people don’t know we were there!”

In terms of the quality of work, he added: “Offenders have kids, or know kids who will benefit from their work at schools, they know people who play or are involved in football so the work is enthusiastic and gets done.

“It’s unpaid work – community service orders, but we get people back and involved in the community.”

If you’d like to talk to Thames Valley CRC about a project at your club, or just regular work opportunities, then email [email protected]

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