This is the second instalment of a special two-part blogread part one here.

“Oi oi oi oi”

The face disappears from the window and seconds later Brian bounds into the portacabin.

He looks happy, always at home here. We spend an hour or so chatting, as we do whenever Brian needs to touch base. Parting, Brian reminds me, “This is like my family out here”.

Four years ago in our ‘germination’ period, Ministry of Justice evidence suggested that our trainees would probably not remain in contact. Now I think about it, we also rather assumed that the public might find the concept of supporting prisoners unpalatable.

We were so wrong on both counts.

Hand-made sign at LandWorks

Hand-made sign at LandWorks

What did emerge is that our ‘offenders and ex-offenders’ (awkward MoJ term, suggesting they cannot be people!) and so many other people wanted to be involved and stay involved. At the start, LandWorks was very much the new kid on the block, with no proof that we could do anything at all and no money. We were no more than an idea.

Just like Brian as a trainee, finding support to grow and develop, LandWorks needed a sheltered environment, someone to believe in a tiny seed of an idea and give it the chance to grow: The Dartington Hall Trust.

We also found guardians every step of the way.

Many believe so much in this idea they help fund us, partners speak up for us, networkers network fantastically on our behalf and some are able to open doors that would have never otherwise opened.

It is a remarkable testament to our community that so many people want to help, in many different ways – to be involved and be a part of LandWorks.

All to support men like Brian – to give him a chance.

Brian was one of the first men at LandWorks, now long-flown from the nest, working not far away but loves to know we are here, just available if needed…you know what I mean.

Much the same has happened to LandWorks. With all this support, we have grown and evolved. We are now at a stage where we are ready to become an independent charity – in fact, a CIO – a Charitable Incorporated Organisation.

My guide in decision-making has always been a simple rule of thumb – ‘What’s in it for the lads?’ – cos that is what it is all about.

Becoming a CIO is a very positive move.

I explained this news to Brian…

“Aww that’s great Chris”… a pause. “But LandWorks, still be here, yeah?”