At 40, ex-prisoner and one time drug addict Sam joined LandWorks, Dartington’s land-based training scheme designed to help offenders return to society and employment.

He has now kicked his drug addiction and gained a full-time job.

Before LandWorks my life was totally chaotic. I was a heroin addict and married to the drug. It was a lonely, sad and terrifying existence: sat in bedsits, never seeing the light of day and always looking over my shoulder.

Things have changed since coming to Dartington in every single respect. LandWorks didn’t just give me the skills to get a job; it actually made me feel like I could work, and that I had something to contribute.

I’m living a crime-free life and a drug-free life and that feels good. It’s not easy, and some days it’s really hard but then I realise what I’m achieving. LandWorks has made me into a person that I actually like.

I’ve got a relationship with my family now, which I’ve never been able to have before. It’s great to show them how far I’ve come.

Before now I’ve never had a job. I managed to get onto this project and good things started happening to me. Now I’ve got a job. I’m working full-time in roadside maintenance which is hard work but in a good way.

Now I work 12 hours a day. If you work, you know every fortnight you’ve got that guaranteed money. It’s mine. I can pay my rent. I can pay my council tax.

I think the highlight has been being trusted, and not constantly being judged; that’s what’s made the difference for me. And people being interested in what I’ve got to say. Oh, and carving the wooden benches, hares and other things; that’s been brilliant.

If I can pass my experience onto the boys, I can tell them the road they should go down. I encourage them all to work but I don’t want them to feel that they ought to be like me!

Sometimes it doesn’t look like much, a bunch of ex-prisoners working in a field in all weathers, but what we’ve got there is really special. It’s completely changed my life and I hope it goes on for years.

We have a relationship with a number of employers who have employed people like Sam after Landworks.  Please contact us for more information.