Chris Parsons is Manager of LandWorks, a revolutionary work-based training scheme designed to support current and ex-prisoners to help put crime behind them.
Jan 4th, 6.47am. It seems particularly dark.
The key finally opens the door, cold and dank after two weeks. Ohhh dear I really should have emptied that compost, think I probably just wanted to get away.
The fire reassuringly starts to crackle, warmth slowly percolating through the damp portacabin, feels like it’s coming back to life.
Life, hmm, how many times I have recently thought about how life’s going for them all…
Five in Prison; they’ve been locked up for two (long, I imagine) Christmas weeks.
20 or so in the community, and like it or not I know (loads!) about their lives; there’s been plenty of text and phone exchange. Mostly happy festive stuff but three had a very difficult Christmas period.
“Chris, my life is a spiralling black pool of stinking shit.” This message arrived Christmas Eve or Day or both, can’t remember? It pretty much captures the festive mood for a few and certainly puts one’s own life into perspective!
Jolting me from my thoughts, Will and Pip (LandWorks top dog) cheerfully appear in the cabin. Steaming mugs of tea and coffee materialise; just as our five, unbelievably happy men arrive from prison…
What a great way to lift any January blues, these guys are just so absolutely delighted to be back. It’s like the best thing ever.
Frank, first day out from prison, has stepped up and offered to join in with cooking today’s lunch, Shepherd’s pie!
Cooking for others and then eating together at the table is often a new (scary for some) experience, but such a fundamental social activity. Relationships build, there’s a warmth and acceptance. I am convinced it helps set boundaries. French commensality? Mais oui!
The conversation is as ever varied. “This really a shepherd’s pie, beef not lamb?” and more questions… What does a shepherd do? Looks after a flock, seemingly often working with other shepherds.
For one of our graduates, his Christmas totally fell apart. Two LandWorks supporters (rather great people in my eyes) were able to make time to visit, listen, support and offer good advice.
I have no doubt their intervention saved him from a total disaster.
But he was one of three having a really tough time. As you can see, we need more mentors.
If you are interested, we are having our mentor morning, Friday 29th January at LandWorks. Learn about our mentor training, individual and group support. If you want to come, let Sarah know at firstname.lastname@example.org.