Offenders serving community sentences and in other restorative justice programmes are to be put to work restoring war memorials in Surrey.
With the next four years commemorating the First World War and its particular relevance across the County, the Respect and Remember project will offer improvement works across the County to tidy up, restore the surroundings and generally restore pride in the county’s many War Memorials, War Memorial Halls and other places of remembrance, many of which have been sadly neglected over the last decades.
This work will be undertaken by people with Community Sentences/Community Payback ordered by the Courts and by young people as part of the Surrey Youth Restorative Justice Programme, a multi-agency ‘diversion from crime’ scheme, working with Surrey Police, which is highly regarded nationally as being very successful.
The project is a partnership involving Surrey and Sussex Probation Trust, Surrey County Council Youth Services and funded at the outset by the Police and Crime Commissioner.
Jeff Harris, Deputy Police and Crime Commissioner for Surrey and Chairman of the project board, said: “Respect and Remember is a fantastic project that we are proud to be able to support. War memorials are a precious part of our county’s cultural heritage. They should be treasured out of respect for those who came before us and as a lesson to those who will follow us.
“For those offenders who wish to make amends for the harm they have done to our communities, I dearly hope this project will give them pause to reflect on the horror and hardship endured by those whose lives were cut short in the Great War and the sense that it is not too late to turn their own lives around for the better.”
Canon Peter Bruinvels, Surrey County Council’s Civilian-Military Liaison Adviser, said: “We are aware that many Councils already have some plans to restore specific Memorials. There is no question of our Project appropriating any local projects currently being planned, or acting without permission/agreement of those responsible for individual memorials, whether on private land or in public places.
“All project work will be assessed and agreed with those currently responsible for individual memorials, and this may extend to assistance in decoration of Memorial Halls, where appropriate. There is no plan to undertake any ‘professional’ work on memorials. It is highly unlikely that ’Payback’ participants or our young people would have the expertise to undertake such skilled work.
“Work has already started to ensure all the memorials are identified to the Project and visits to sites/meetings with ‘Responsible Authorities’ are held to discuss options. Although funds may be tight, the willingness and workforce are there to be used throughout the next four years- to everyone’s advantage.
“We are sure that there are other Memorials and places of remembrance that are in need of a little ‘TLC’ and as such are asking the communities across Surrey to suggest these places, buildings or areas to their local councils so that together we can ensure that those who gave their all will never be forgotten.”