Project Director Chris Parsons speaks to LandWorks supporters CREDIT LANDWORKS 2 1024x683 - Prisoner Training & Placements

LandWorks celebrates five years, with proof rehabilitation works

Annual Supporters Day raises £3000

As ministers struggle to get to grips with a growing prison population, the pioneering resettlement scheme LandWorks celebrates five years of success rehabilitating prisoners, with an astonishing record of 92% employment amongst its ‘graduates’.

 

At its annual open day on August 17th, over 190 supporters gathered in a former quarry on the Dartington estate to celebrate five years of remarkable work with prisoners from Channings Wood near Newton Abbot, and people on community sentences.

 

“Just look around and see what we have achieved together, transforming a scruffy old quarry, an eyesore, overgrown with weeds into this flourishing and inspirational workspace,” said Chair of Trustees Ted Tuppen CBE.

 

Current trainees, graduates, donors and supporters mingled in the sunshine, enjoyed lunch and bought wooden bowls and chopping boards, ceramic mugs and bowls made by the trainees and fresh veg grown in the large market garden, to raise vital funds for the project and hear about its success, working with people who are committed to change their ways.

 

One graduate, Jarvis, gave a moving account of his life of crime (about 8 prison sentences from 3 months to 10 years, which he could recite without hesitating), and told the invited guests how excited he was to have just received his first pay cheque for his new job. “I’m 53 years old, I’ve been a career criminal and never had a job in my life, I’m like a kid at Christmas,” said Jarvis.

 

Jarvis is a remarkable example of a prisoner who took the decision to turn his life around and with the help of the intense work done at LandWorks has succeeded in doing just that. His story is proof, said Project Director Chris Parsons, that this form of holistic resettlement support works, and that the investment in rehabilitation is worth it: “We hope that the LandWorks model could be replicated by others to provide effective resettlement in other communities.”

 

While the per day cost of a prisoner at LandWorks is higher than a day in prison, the knock-on effect is worth it, said Tuppen.

 

“These men have all become fully contributing, economically active, tax-paying members of society, and are no longer a drain on police and probation services.”

 

Tuppen spoke of a national conversation about cutting the number of custodial sentences and increasing the use of community-based sentences to help reduce the prison population and drew attention to the massive underfunding of the probation service.

 

“Recent privatisation of part of the probation service was designed to improve efficiency and save money. It may have saved money, but it has not worked, with those brave and committed enough to stay on hopelessly under-resourced, massively overworked and barely able to keep up with the people for whom they are often the only link with normality.

 

“Increasing use of community sentencing makes a lot of sense but will only succeed if these best intentions are backed up with the right structures and resources.

 

“Look at other prison models around the world, look at LandWorks, look at the whole area of prisoner rehabilitation to see what works and provide the resources to give these people the investment that they deserve.

 

“So there it is: long-term investment versus short term savings. Whatever your political colour, this is the message that we must deliver to government.”

 

Since it was founded in 2013, LandWorks has helped 68 people back into the community through work-based training such as landscaping, market gardening and woodworking, and the development of life and social skills. Over 92% of its graduates are now in employment, and the reoffending rate is just 6% at LandWorks, compared to a national average of 46%.

 

Commercial enterprises now generate over 20% of the charity’s running costs and Parsons told supporters that the charity has enough funding to feel secure going forward but stressed that fundraising continues to be crucial to its future. Nearly £3,000 was raised on the day, with some of that going towards a rotavator for the garden.

 

To find out more about LandWorks, or to make a single or regular donation, visit www.landworks.org