OFFENDERS ordered to do unpaid community work as part of their sentence are helping victims of crime through a Newton Aycliffe-based scheme.

The County Durham Probation Service sends low-risk offenders to complete carpentry workshops at Miller House, on the Aycliffe Industrial Estate.

There they make a host of wooden items from dog kennels and bird boxes to furniture which is sold to the public at low cost.

Any profits are donated to Victim Support and there are plans to donate items to schools and community groups, which can auction them to boost funds.

Hazel Willoughby, assistant chief officer for unpaid work in County Durham, said: "We were one of the first areas to launch the Community Payback scheme and we need ideas from the public about how offenders can put their community service time to good use.

"They currently do a variety of projects such as environmental improvements and working in charity shops and working in Miller House."

The work is also designed to cut the risk of re-offending.

Andrew Parker, 22, who has almost completed the 100 hours of community service he was ordered to do, said: "I've really enjoyed doing something positive with my day.

"I never wanted to work before but now I want to go to college to study joinery and get a job."