On a rare hot day in April, new trainee Joe arrived at LandWorks following his very first stint in prison at twenty years old. Four months into his placement, Sarah asked Joe about his experiences so far.
What was prison like?
I was only in there for a month and a half but in a weird way I needed it. I needed a wake-up call.
What were your first impressions of LandWorks?
Honestly? My first impression was that it was a bit quiet. I’m quite lively and not used to being around calm and chilled people. My family is lairy and loud. My friends are too. There’s a quietness out here and I’m still getting used to that.
What was the first thing you were involved with?
I made a money box out of wood from the Dartington estate. I wanted to see if I could do it, and I could. It was weird. I had accomplished something.
What was life like before LandWorks?
It was like 300 miles per hour, sometimes faster. I’d describe it as full-throttle all the time. Staying awake for days on end with no sleep, huge binges, getting searched in the streets, appearing for bail. I was off my head on drugs all the time. And that’s why nothing mattered. But I wasn’t happy. I needed a way out and I didn’t know how to get it. LandWorks has given me that escape.
How has LandWorks given you that escape?
It’s given me more skills, more confidence to speak to people. I’m sleeping better. I feel fitter and healthier. It makes me feel good about myself. That I’m putting something back in by sorting my shit out. I’m happier.
What’s been the best bit?
Just being out here. I love being outdoors. I don’t care what I’m doing, as long as it’s here.
What challenges have you faced? What’s been the hardest part?
I’m still trying to get over the fact that my mum left me when I was six months old and not knowing the reason why. I couldn’t cope before and drugs helped. But now LandWorks helps. It’s taught me to cope better. I now say to myself ‘give your head a wobble, sort your sh#t out’. It’s working.
Living life on the straight and narrow is really hard. I could earn £500 a day before. But I’d give that up in a heartbeat for this.
Where do you see yourself in a year?
Not in prison. I used to get arrested six times in a week. I don’t want that life. I’ll be 22. Hopefully in a job. Living in my own place. I hope I’ll be happy and settled. At the end of the day, I guess that’s all that counts.
I’ve just realised I’ve managed to stay crime-free for six months and eight days! Woah.