On the roof wide 1024x576 - Prisoner Training & Placements


I’m sitting up on the roof of our main building. Sam (our new site maintenance coordinator) and I have been doing a little roof repair work.

I have stayed up on the roof because the view of the site is so good…. You forget sometimes just how much has been achieved on our two-acre site. We are moving into our ninth year and steadily the building repairs and maintenance work increase.

I often write about the people here on a placement, their difficulties, the support they need and receive… But looking out at all the goings-on, the bustle, and the business of the site, I am minded to tell you about the commercial enterprises that make the day at LandWorks happen.

We do actually have to produce something, salad, tomatoes, picnic benches, pottery, compost, logs, etc. This is real and purposeful work, not made-up training exercises. It makes a significant contribution to our income (75K) and our ability to provide placements.

There are deadlines and yes, often a bit of stress, hard work, and a real vibrancy that gives the day meaning and a reality for those who attend.

So, our 8am staff meeting can be quite complex… We are essentially a set of 4 commercial enterprises, each with its own production management pressures. Then I liberally scatter around a series of ‘trainees’ to join in. People who are here on a placement, who may or may not be particularly enthused about doing a shift, essentially on a voluntary basis.

For our LandWorks employees, I have discovered over the years this working environment is not for everyone. Not only do you have to be very accomplished and skilled in your own particular field and meet financial income targets, but you also have to deal with the ever-changing and often challenging personal issues that our placements bring. Personal ‘baggage unloading’ often seems to happen at the most inconvenient moment!

From my vantage point, looking over this busy scene you can feel the buzz, voices chattering happily out in the veg field, the hum of the workshop in full swing, our rather decrepit old garden tractor is hauling (just) a load of bagged compost to the shop and the potters have moved outside, clay tiles on a table in the sunshine.

What a great team we have, making a tough job look enjoyable.

Sam is shouting up at me, something about health and safety, ladders, sunstroke and could I come down, please.

I may escape up here again.


24th June 2021