23 October 2015

Dear Michael Gove

We want to explain how LandWorks fits with your rehabilitation ideas.

That rather than being ‘warehoused’ in prison, with nothing to do and no purpose, we should be given chances to do things that will stop us coming back. Things that will give us the skills and confidence we need to improve our lives and those around us, and repair the damage we have done.

Some of us come to LandWorks as day release prisoners; some here are already released. Nearly everyone stays in contact for support as we make our way into employment and back into the community.

Mr Gove, we would like you to know that…

“…this place is different, it’s well different! I’ve been all around the system, in and out. It’s different here because it’s joined up support, not a bit here and there, then dumped. It’s not hand holding, it’s real and we do it.”

“…LandWorks is the only place I have ever been able to be myself, not judged but encouraged to be myself… The good person that is in me is allowed to be. It’s like someone’s seen me and now I can stop hiding.”

“… it feels like the community wants us to be here, wants to support us. That takes some getting used to, but how awesome is that!”

“…we meet all sorts of people at LandWorks; we work, talk, cook and eat together. There is a great atmosphere, always new stuff happening. I would never have done any counselling, ever! But it just happens here, it’s great. We are building a library; I have been using some of the books for inspiration.”

“…I made terrible, stupid mistakes, now I take responsibility and I want to put something back. Here I am starting to, I am not a bad person; I didn’t have a good role model.”

“…somehow my past is reflected here… you’re not condemned but you start to feel you can move on, move away from old influences, change your thinking and habits. This is a safe place.”

“…locked in prison for 3 years has broken me, I achieved nothing; I have been trapped in a hopeless situation. Here I have found someone who believes in me, a family environment. I’ve never respected anyone before coming here.”

“…LandWorks should be part of the prison system; it should be the last 6 months of your sentence. To think that everything will be all right after years behind the door is just wrong. It doesn’t work like that. We get £47 release grant, to last two weeks, so that’s £3.35/day; it is not going to happen!”

“…on the day of my release, I came straight out to LandWorks, had breakfast, then to see my shared flat, meet my Probation manager with my LandWorks mentor. I have now been in a job for two months. Last time I came out I went straight to a pub.”

“…this place has changed my whole outlook, everything has changed and I think that is the same for all of us. I never felt good about myself, but what I have done here, I do feel good about and you know, I think it’s going to be okay.”

Prison life only prepares you for more prison, LandWorks prepares you for real life.

We would like you to visit our project and see for yourself.

Yours sincerely

The men at Quarry Field

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