A HILLINGDON initiative to bring young offenders together to make food hampers for the Salvation Army has had a huge response.

Officers from the Youth Offending Service (YOS) collected food, Christmas decorations and donations from Hillingdon Council staff and local probation officers to give to the charity over the festive week.

Supermarkets, including Sainsbury's in Uxbridge and Hayes, also gave generous contributions.

Young people put together 60 hampers for delivery to the Sally Army's Uxbridge office. The hampers, containing basics such as canned food, tea and milk, plus treats such as chocolates and crackers were distributed by the charity for Christmas Day.

Those working with the YOS take part in reparation as a means of making amends for the harm caused to the community through their offending.

One of the service users, aged 16, said: "I'm glad to be able to help people that need it. It's made a difference to me to think about doing something useful for the community."

The YOS, which includes employees from the police, probation service, health and education, works each year with around 300 offenders aged 10-17 and last year the re-offending rate dropped to 34.7 per cent, lower than the rest of London.

The service is based at the Civic Centre in Uxbridge and its main aim is to reduce re-offending by young people. It works by helping them to understand what got them into trouble and to accept that their actions have consequences.