As Anzac Day approaches, teams of community-based offenders are helping tidy up memorial sites in readiness for commemorative services.

Under the guidance of Corrections’ community work supervisors, community work parties have been busy in Awakino, Sanson, Feilding, Ashhurst and Wairarapa this week.

George Henderson, Corrections’ Acting Lower North Operations Director says Anzac Day is a good opportunity for offenders to give back to the community.

“Community work is a reparative sentence where offenders do unpaid work in their community. Anzac Day is a day when the local community comes together and we’re happy to help them get their sites ready.

“It’s also a good opportunity for the men and women on the work parties to learn more about the significance of the day.”Community work offenders prepare Awakino Memorial Hall for Anzac Day services.

In Awakino, offenders managed by New Plymouth Community Corrections have been painting and cleaning the inside of the Awakino Memorial Hall in preparation for the RSA service on Tuesday.

Waterblasting the War Memorial in Waverly.At Waverley Primary School, the war memorial has been water blasted and painted by offenders managed by Whanganui Community Corrections.

A Palmerston North community work party has made several visits to the Ashhurst Domain where they’ve completed grounds maintenance around the war memorial.

The cenotaph in the grounds of Sanson School has benefited from a spruce up by a Feilding community work party which has mowed the grass, trimmed trees and cleaned the windows of the school and office.

The work party has also given Feilding’s Rangitikei Club car park a tidy up where people will gather on Tuesday. Work has involved water blasting, painting and a general clean up.

For the last 18 years, Wairarapa offenders have cleaned up soldiers’ graves in Featherston, Greytown, Carterton, and Masterton cemeteries ahead of Anzac Day.

On the East Coast offenders managed by a community work sponsor, who is a former military employee, have cleaned up the gates at the Tolaga Bay War Memorial where the Anzac Day service will be held.

Mr Henderson says offenders managed by Porirua Community Corrections work alongside RSA members and volunteers to lay poppies at Whenua Tapu Cemetery.

“For the last eight or so years we’ve partnered with Porirua RSA to place poppies with a sprig of rosemary on the graves of fallen servicemen and women.  A representative from the RSA tells the work party about the meaning of the poppy, and the importance of what they’re doing. It’s a meaningful activity that they can tell their families about with pride.”

Community work offenders at the Ashhurst Domain War Cemetery.John*, who’s been involved in the Ashhurst Domain tidy up said; “It’s great to be doing something like this for our Anzacs”.

Community work is completed in supervised work parties or through projects sponsored by eligible agencies. This gives the community unpaid labour on a wide variety of projects.

Offenders can be sentenced to do between 40 and 400 hours of community work.

*not his real name