The summer holidays are here, so I thought it might be helpful if I gave you some key bits of LandWorks information to use when chatting around the BBQ…
So, a little something to get the party started. LandWorks is unique (it’s now official) – there is no other scheme in this country that offers a bespoke resettlement package to prisoners who are on day release.
But possibly temper the excitement caused by that last statement with the fact that the Community Rehabilitation Companies (privatised probation) are going to have their contracts terminated in 2020. Is this good news?
Potentially yes, but it does rather depend on what comes next. There is a desperate need to provide support for those who need it, because our evidence shows people are just being forced into impossible situations.
For example, could you survive on £46, the prison discharge grant? Not for a day (or one BBQ), not for a week – this money will have to last until your first benefit payment. We have people who waited eight weeks before receiving any money.
As you know, accommodation plays a major part in successful resettlement (LandWorks is fortunate in having one landlord willing to take tenants at well below the market rate). But did you realise housing benefit is now approx. £160 per month below private rent in this area? Basically, there is almost no available accommodation for a single person.
And maybe ask this question…is it sensible to place the Disability Benefit Assessment Centre on a difficult to get to, out of the way industrial estate? Yes, honestly, this really happens. And it’s not easily accessible by public transport. Why would you do that?
Mental health provision is now so hopelessly underfunded it is pitiful. An example, we referred a young man to the mental health team, but because he had been seen previously (three years ago) he cannot be registered as critical, even though he is. The wait to see a keyworker will be over six months. He is recalled and back in prison within four.
LandWorks resettlement statistics are impressive, but is this because we just accept the easy ones? We accept people who we believe wish to change. However, as the Prison Reform Trust notes in its report:
“Nearly all prisoners (97%) said they wanted to stop offending. When asked what would be important in stopping them, most said a job (68%) and a place to live (60%)”.
So that’s just about everyone saying they want to change!
We work with individuals who have a multitude of issues that have caused them to behave criminally. Some test us to breaking point, others engage and take on everything the scheme has to offer. None of them are easy.
Finally, a note of BBQ caution…. Reflecting on the above I wonder if my own BBQs would be better attended if I found a new topic of conversation. Think I’ll ask Julie.