So, I had obviously drifted off. Bit awkward.
I was thinking about why being in Prison gives people’s skin such a grey pasty unhealthy pallor, and oh god how many times have I been dragged down by prison conversation all about, well not really anything consequential, unless you have done or are doing several years inside.
Brian, just released, was clearly hoping for some acknowledgement that I was interested in his riveting detailed conversation about prison toilets and associated difficult stains.
Helpfully Brain just kept going… “Even the Governors are stating the service is at rock bottom now.”
“Well, that’s an improvement on last year” … Is what I was going to say but didn’t. Because Monika (Market gardener) and Sam (just started the 1st LandWorks apprenticeship in Horticulture) wanted to show us a tray of their freshly harvested leeks.
Brian said, “I’ve read quite a few articles in the Inside Time (prison newspaper) about LandWorks, they always rate the food out here”.
Daydreaming again, I floated back to the first open day at LandWorks (almost 10 years ago). HMP had given Joe (a day release prisoner) permission to speak, on the strict understanding that he was not to be derogatory about the prison or mention the food at all… Joe opened his speech with “I have to tell you the food in Prison is shit!”.
And I was standing next to a Governor!
But Joe had a point… And a recent report has shown that the amount spent per day on food in HMP has again fallen… now they have to provide 3 meals/day for £2.14/person. Which is roughly what LandWorks spends/person on one (good) meal.
Brian is right, the food at LandWorks is great. Eating together is great. It is so much part of our form of rehabilitation and the very foundation to the community we have established (read more here).
Next week Djamila is about to start cooking at LandWorks. A chef, delivering cooking and budgeting skills. But very importantly she will bring the tray of leeks (other veg is available) from the garden into the kitchen and on to our table and ideally then on to other tables, as the guys are motivated to replicate this experience at home.
Brian is sitting beside me at lunch. A massive pile of sausage, mash and veg is on his plate. The conversation has changed. He is telling me about his artwork.
I think about telling him that his grey pallor will go soon, but I don’t.
Because after all this time, after all these people at LandWorks, I know it will. And I know that eating better is directly linked to better lives.
12th January 2023