Offenders serve in charity outlet

Anita Pati

Young offenders are carrying out their community service in a newly opened charity shop in Leicester, run by Victim Support.

The ground-breaking initiative marks a collaboration between the charity and the Probation Service, which supplies three minor offenders each day to clean, iron and price up clothes.

The shop, which opened in the city's Market Place last week, notched up sales of £1,300 in its first four days.

Mick Studley, director of Victim Support, Leicestershire and Rutland, said it was the first shop the charity had opened in the area and the first time the Probation Service had funded such a scheme. "Many people think the Probation Service is for the offender, but it is a public protection unit that also works with victims," he said.

Under the three-year scheme, the service has agreed to pay the shop manager's wage, and Victim Support will recruit at least four volunteers.

Studley said the shop should raise the profile of Victim Support on the high street and make it easier for victims of crime to contact the charity.

He said it also offered an excellent means of raising the 20 per cent of funds that the charity does not receive from restricted or government sources.

"It is a fantastic oppor-tunity for regular funding streams, which means we will not have to keep putting in bids," he explained. "This has benefits for victims and witnesses because of the funds we will raise.

"It is also an opportunity for offenders to put something back," he added.

The shop has also had donations from partner agencies, including the police, the Crown Prosecution Service and the courts, as well as other high street retailers.

Studley said it was likely that other shops would be opened in the area.

"The feedback has been wonderful," he added.

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