Artistic offenders create Wonderland for charity
World Book Day Festival

School children in Merthyr Tydfil will be transported to Wonderland thanks to the artistic efforts of local offenders.

Offenders, who are carrying out unpaid work for their crimes with probation service provider Wales Community Rehabilitation Company, are working with local literacy charity the Stephens and George Centenary Charitable Trust to make World Book Day magical for hundreds of local pupils.

At Wales CRC’s Community Payback workshops in Lewis Street, Canton, Cardiff, offenders have been using their painting and woodwork skills to create colourful scenes and characters from Alice in Wonderland. They have made dozens of giant playing cards and larger-than-life stand-up wooden characters of Alice, the Cheshire Cat, the Queen of Hearts and
her guards.

Their work will be set up around the Lucy Fountain on Merthyr High Street, where the main festival is taking place to celebrate World Book Day on March 5. The festival will be opened by the Education Minister Huw Lewis and will boast a wide variety of book-themed events, appearances by guest authors, food, drink and books stalls. More than 1,000 children are expected to take part along with local churches, chapels and businesses.

On festival day a group of up to six offenders from Merthyr’s Community Payback team, under the guidance of Community Payback supervisor Mark Williams, will also help out the charity by installing the characters, setting up stalls and preparing the site for the festival. On the day CP the teams, who have all been checked for suitability, will also be marshalling the entrance and exits and the route to the event.

Wales CRC’s workshop manager Steve Powell said: “We have a long-standing relationship with Helen Hughes, charity co-ordinator at the Stephens and George Centenary Charitable Trust. In the past we have created a magic wardrobe and characters from the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe for them.”

“When they first asked if we could create the characters for Alice in Wonderland, it was a bit of a challenge. But we came up with some ideas and matched the skills to our offenders, who have been able to develop their creative skills.”

Helen Hughes, co-ordinator at the Stephens and George Centenary Charitable Trust, said: “Wales CRC’s Community Payback are a great help to the charity. They support our charity’s aim to promote literacy in Merthyr and work with us to create libraries in schools. Every week they also collect second-hand books from various collection points around South Wales and deliver them to our charity book shop.


Editor’s notes:

  • Wales Community Rehabilitation Company was set up on 1st June, 2014 when it took on much of the community-based rehabilitation work previously done by the former Wales Probation.
  • Community Payback work was worth some £3.5 million to communities across Wales in 2013/14, through offenders working 552,209 hours to make reparation for their offending behaviour.
  • Projects are nominated by the public or their representatives and so they address what the public consider priority issues in their area and improve the environment in which they live.
  • Community Payback is, primarily, a punishment achieved by restricting someone’s liberty and making them carry out demanding work in a disciplined environment for no pay.
  • If someone fails to carry out Community Payback work instructions they can be taken back to court and they may be sent to prison.
  • Offenders are supervised by a Community Payback supervisor, or in individual work placements hosted mainly by voluntary or charitable organisations or social enterprises. Wherever they work, offenders are carefully assessed beforehand and public protection is always an overriding consideration.
  • Work undertaken includes: Clearing litter/fly tipping and derelict sites, graffiti removal, painting, grass cutting, placements in charity shops, involving furniture deliveries/collections, sorting of donated items, clearing of footpaths and bridleways, working with YMCA Wales to improve skills and access to work, creating community gardens, work for historic railway preservation societies, charities and faith organisations


For further information, please contact Alison Stokes, Wales CRC Communications Officer on 02920 840157  or email: