doing unpaid work differently

Community Payback is a sentence made by the courts. Sentences vary between 40 and 300 hours of 'Unpaid Work', with participants working at least 7 hours a week to finish the requirement within 12 months. As well as making amends to the community, the work may also help participants to learn new skills and get on better with those around them.

That's where we come in

Through a partnership we call 'Doing Unpaid Work Differently', our Advance Programme and a selection of independent learning opportunities are available to people completing their Unpaid work Requirement with the Probation Service North East.

“We’ve found that participants who are out of work, really benefit from the programme. They see it as a real opportunity to turn things around and give themselves a new focus. Functioning well in a real work experience role not only gives them the confidence boost they are seeking but it also enables them to explore different sectors and discover they can apply their skills in ways they had never considered - opening new possibilities.”



Advance Programme:

Painting & Decorating

Lisa was referred to the Probation Service North East to complete her Unpaid Work Requirement.
She was unsure and apprehensive, but after having a positive first day at the Oakwood Centre, Lisa opted into the Advance Programme and chose the painting and decorating pathway to complete her NOCN L1 Award in Vocational skills with us.

Lisa also volunteered her experience in catering to work alongside staff and volunteers in the community cafe. She was really encouraged by the value her skills brought to the team and her confidence increased daily as a result, inadvertently becoming a peer mentor to some of the younger participants; one of whom went on to secure a job in catering, thanks to the new skills and experience they gained.

“I love it at the Oakwood Centre, being here and feeling supported has turned one of the lowest points of my life into an amazing opportunity”


Advance Programme:



CSCS Card training

"After getting my start date for the Oakwood, I didn’t really know what to expect and was a little apprehensive about what it was going to be like. By the end of my first day, I had met lots of new people and the staff made me feel so welcome and at ease. I’ve had invaluable help from Martin sorting out my CV and connecting me with other training providers and I have gained listening and compromising skills during Matt’s team building sessions which I will take forward in both my personal and work life. The CSCS course was much more intense that I thought it would be, but with support from the team, I managed to complete a NOCN Level 1 Award in Health & Safety in a Construction Environment and pass the CSCS test. Not only that, I’ve also done the Advance Programme and gained a NOCN Level 1 Award in Vocational Studies (Catering), working towards my Level 2 Award in Food Safety and Hygiene.


Considering I only wanted a CSCS card, I have done so much more than I expected. I’ve really enjoyed my time at the Oakwood and it has been a great place for me to not only complete my unpaid work hours, but also gain new skills that I will be able to use in my future."


Advance Programme:

Customer Service

As part of her rehabilitation, Natalie’s Responsible Officer supported her to enrol on the Advance Programme at the Oakwood Centre.

Keen to find work, Natalie engaged with our Information, Advice and Guidance sessions and tailored the practical experience to develop her skills in customer service; working alongside volunteers in the community café on site.

After just four weeks on the programme, Natalie secured herself a job in a café local to her home, which following months of unemployment was a real success. Unfortunately the role didn’t materialise into a permenant position, but rather than be discouraged, Natalie returned to the community café as a volunteer where she felt both supported and able to make a valuable contribution to the team. Alongside looking for a new opportunity, she recognised the value of keeping busy and the positive benefits of making and maintaining healthy friendships.


Advance Programme:

Business Administration

James’ Responsible Officer recommended the Oakwood Centre to him after learning he was currently unemployed.
We  tailored James’ work experience pathway to make the most of his skills; upgrading IT equipment and providing technical support within a busy office environment.
James was also supported to update his CV and taught how to tailor it in response to specific role applications. Putting his new approach into practice, James secured three interviews and benefited from 1:1 interview advice, which he felt made a real difference to his interview preparation and performance. By week 3 of the Programme, James accepted a job as a Technical Support Analyst for a Chemical Manufacturing Company.

“If your Responsible Officer tells you about the Oakwood, 100% go for it, because without this programme, I wouldn’t of had a chance”.

But don't just take our word for it...


PS - Check out the video on our home page, it was filmed & produced by one of the participants