The PeN Project has been running for a year now, with over 50 blogs viewed around the world, in 61 different countries.
All of this is great, but the really important connection has emerged that PeN provides a conduit for men to explain their lives to the community that they hurt… quite unique.
The below is a great example of just one such blog.
Jarvis says: “It makes me anxious just to do that normal stuff…”
“I think it’s important to say that I’ve been a long-term criminal most of my life. I’ve come to a stage in my life that I’ve had enough. I’ve hurt so many people, including myself. All the relationships that I’ve had with my children… I haven’t been there for anybody really. Then, obviously, there’s all the victims involved with the crimes and that’s caused all sorts of problems. I was looking around … I was talking to someone the other week in jail and there’s no goodness that’s come out of it – none. I’m in my 50s all of a sudden, and there’s no goodness that’s come out of it at all. I’ve literally ruined everything I’ve touched. I wasn’t aware of that, I was just doing what I was doing, but, now, I just want a bit of peace in life. I think to be part of something else is quite important for me. I’ve been part of a criminality world, but that’s just so much rubbish, that’s just nonsense really when I think about it. Sometimes I think to myself I don’t recognise myself. I think to myself “did I really do all of that?”
So, it’s been really important for me to come here. I’ve had nice people in my life before, in ones, but here I’ve found a lot of people who are all trying to help me and that’s quite significant for me to have everyone trying to help me. That’s how it feels like, everyone’s trying to help me and that’s how it does feel and that’s really good. It makes me feel secure. I’m moving to live in this area and that takes a lot of pressure off me. There’s no expectations of me, which is fantastic. I really need that. I don’t have to worry about image and ego because no-one really knows me, so, now it’s down to me to start on a little new plan in my life and to do it the right way. It’s quite fearful doing that, starting again. It’s like I’ve lost everything and I’m starting again and I’m 50-odd. That’s quite frightening in its own way.
Doing new things, just like going shopping. I’ve never really been shopping before. I’ve driven my wife to the shops, but I’ve never done the shopping. I might have gone in and paid the bill, right at the end. I think I’ve gone in there once or twice, maybe at Christmas or something, but no, I’ve never done … and I never realised… I suppose it depends what sort of money you’re on, you’ve got to go and budget, you have to go into different shops. If I had some money in my pocket now my immediate reaction would be “let’s go to the first shop and get what we need”, instead of these places like Lidl and little things like that. It’s so frightening. It makes me anxious just to do that normal stuff.
Cooking – I’ve never cooked for myself. So, I appreciate what goes on here… people helping, learning to cook. Actually, I’m quite surprised that I like it. That’s the funny thing. I didn’t think I’d like it, I didn’t do it, it was just there. I’ve enjoyed it. That’s what I like about it, I enjoy it. So, that’s really good.
I have got certain skills, but I’m not sure how I’m going to put them skills into practice. But, with the criminality and my lifestyle and what’s happened, that really affects your self-worth. I know most people think I’m confident, and I am in certain areas, but my self-worth’s quite low. I know I’m actually quite a caring person, quite a sensitive person really and my empathy’s quite good. I can give that out, but giving that to yourself inside’s different. It’s bizarre really. I don’t recognise that I’m doing something that’s good or whatever. I don’t recognise it. You can tell me and I’ll go “yeah, yeah” and then I’m onto the next thing and I don’t really give it any thought. The biggest thing that’s happened to me is when the project manager said to me yesterday about how it’s really nice to have me about and I thought “yeah?” and he said I was so happy, but I don’t really see that in myself. Maybe that’s because of the amount of time I’ve done…
All I know, at the end of the day, is I like coming out here, I like the people I’m around, I like the area I’m around, I like everything I hear about all sorts of stuff in the south-west and it’s just a lot more peaceful and nicer. That’s what I’ve been looking for all my life really, a bit of peace…”
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