I thought you would be interested in the below, a recent PeN project interview with one of our guys.
This project within LandWorks provides a voice for these otherwise untold life stories….
I’ve been at LandWorks for about six or seven weeks maybe. Maybe a little bit longer. I’ve lost track because… It’s nice. I got in trouble before, but … I didn’t have to come here. I didn’t have any conditions left. My probation officer said ‘what do you do?’ I said I just potter around doing anything, and I get bored easy and end up drinking and stuff like that, and he said why don’t I try LandWorks. To be honest, at first, I was like nah, that’s not for me. He said just try it for one day, you don’t have to go, but give it one shot and see what you think. I came that day and I’ve just been coming ever since…
I had a 12-week suspended sentence and it got activated in the beginning of the first lockdown. I thought everything was shut, which it was shut, but because I had no correspondence with my probation officer… I was just sitting in my house and the next thing I knew the police had come through my door and just took me to prison basically … it was about this time last year. I was just sitting there with my ex-girlfriend and they come through the door and said are you, blah, blah, and that was it. That was about eight o’clock at night and by half-past 12 on Monday, the next day, I was in prison. So yeah, really quick.
I lost my house, my girlfriend, everything, just because of that.
Because I was in jail, I couldn’t have no correspondence with anyone. I didn’t know my landlord’s number or address or anything like that, so I couldn’t contact anyone. I got out and notice had been served and the time was up, but he gave me a week to get my stuff out. I got my stuff out, but I had to bin loads of it, bed, wardrobes, because I can’t carry it on my back. When I was in prison someone robbed my house, nicked my PlayStation, my tv and my stereo. What I had left I had to leave apart from my clothes on my back and in my suitcase…
A few times I slept in a car park, which was underneath. It’s got heating. It’s by the seafront… But there were too many people down there and too much drugs going on. My mum sent me some money to buy a tent and a sleeping-bag. It was summer at the time. I was just finding little spots to pitch-up. One guy used to help me out. It’s a bit public this place, but I used to pitch the tent up in there, but I couldn’t go there until midnight because people were still coming and going. I used to wait around, and this guy used to live next to this little park. He used to let me keep my big rucksack and my tent in his little shed just so I didn’t have to carry it around all day. I used to go back there at night, and they used to bring me out water, a couple of beers one night. There are nice people out there. Then it started raining all the time and my tent wasn’t waterproof. I broke into a garage. It was an empty garage and I pitched my tent up in there. I was in there for a few months…
I was ringing the housing people all the time. Every other day I was ringing them and saying what’s going on? They just couldn’t help me. I wasn’t vulnerable enough. That’s what they used to keep saying.
I was sitting on Berry Head one night. I was really drunk, and I thought about jumping. My phone went dead when I was speaking to these people, the Samaritans or something, and they got worried.
But I didn’t jump because I didn’t have the balls. I just stood there. Because my phone went dead, the next thing I knew the bloody coastguard was out, police was everywhere looking for me and they found me. I got into a car that was open. I just got into this car. I didn’t know whose it was, but they had obviously walked past and seen somebody in there and knocked the window and said, are you Johnny? Yeah. They didn’t even question about whose car it was or whatever. They just said, you’re alive, that’s the main thing and they sort of just left me…
I thought I’d be going back to prison, which would’ve been alright at the time. It was better than sleeping rough. You’ve got warm beds and you’ve got a tv, not that I watch tv, you’ve got food all the time, whereas I had to do mad things for food. I was just stealing stuff out of shops like pasties and stuff. I used to go to the local pub most mornings and have a little wash and brush my teeth and that. I used to get some funny looks, but I just tried to make myself look a bit presentable.
I got out and was homeless and that was what I was doing until I got into this place.
Chris picked me up from Morrisons. I came here that day and by the end of the day I actually asked if I could come back. I just liked it. I didn’t expect it. I didn’t know what it was all about. My probation officer said “it’s hard to explain, you just need to go there and see for yourself.” Then I asked to come back the day after that and then it was like three days a week, pretty much every week, and this week, it’s been all week. I just wasn’t used being around nice people. Everyone’s so nice and they obviously want to know stuff about me… I just thought it was a nice environment. I’d never done planting and stuff before in my life. I’m doing stuff I’ve never done like planting, woodwork, pottery. I’ve never done anything like that before.
I like the people here, the food, the activities, just the way everyone is. Everyone just gets along with each other. It’s just a nice environment. It’s a nice vibe… I just love it. I would recommend it to anyone if they were having a hard time or they just want to get a bit of structure in their life. This is awesome. I don’t know why I didn’t get sent here before because I reckon none of this would’ve happened if I came here earlier…
13th May 2021
Resettlement Manager Job Opportunity
Are you dedicated to improving the lives of people within the criminal justice system? Are you highly experienced in developing and delivering services that can make all the difference? Are you able to build trusting, supportive relationships, whilst maintaining professional boundaries?
Then join LandWorks as our new Resettlement and Graduate Support Manager.
Full details here. Closing date, Friday 4th June.