LandWorks on a Sunday, a different place, a quiet time for reflection on something previously said…
“Thing is Chris, you can’t just expect broken people to fix themselves, it doesn’t work like that.” Doris, LandWorks placement (PeN interview 2021).
And if you think about it, just trying only to ‘fix’ offenders doesn’t fix reoffending. It really is so much bigger than that and needs to involve all of us.
For years we have been banging on about how well-delivered resettlement support, backed up by long-term engagement in the community, works… “This’ll be a part of me for life now, even when I’ve left, because without it, I don’t know where I’d be.” Tony, LandWorks Trainee (PeN interview 2022).
For resettlement to work people need to find new networks of support and opportunities in their local community, and so often that’s the very community they hurt in the first place.
Attitudes need to change e.g. “Most people don’t like criminals and think prison is too nice”. As the new Chief Inspector of Prisons, Charlie Taylor recently said… “People think that being in prison isn’t enough- the prison needs to do some punishing of its own. But what do you want from them when they get out? Do you want them to be a resource, an asset?”
Change takes time, investment, and a new attitude towards the reintegration of ex-offenders into communities.
For an offender to become an ex-offender there needs to be a recognised end to punishment and a means of signalling their entrance back into their communities and wider society.
Perhaps some form of formal recognition is necessary, currently there is nothing to mark completion of a sentence. Let alone any appreciation of the range of rehabilitative work that so many people do.
“It’s no understatement to say that LandWorks literally saved my life.” Jeremy, LandWorks Trainee (PeN interview 2021).
This is genuine sentiment, but perhaps a more accurate account would acknowledge his role in changing his life, we were/are alongside (for up to 40 hrs/week and ongoing long-term support), but not saving.
People looking in at LandWorks quite often ask about my belief in ‘hope and forgiveness’. Although I do understand these thoughts, for me, this question remains mostly unanswered.
If I am honest, I think it’s probably more about acceptance, developing a sense of new possibilities and agency.
I do believe most people are decent and kind and at LandWorks we believe in unconditional positive regard for the person they are today, not who they were.
So, looks like we’re going to be busy next week…
14th April 2022