Five years ago today LandWorks started. We had just received a donation of a porta cabin which surprisingly had no roof! Three prisoners on day release, one offender on licence, and an old pot of paint.
There was no electricity, no money, and the water pipe was allegedly somewhere buried near the field gate.
But there was a great deal of support from the 39 people who, five years ago, read this blog.
And, at that moment, I can honestly say I wondered why I was doing this, and I guess the newbies on their first day out of prison perhaps thought much the same.
So yes, maybe it was a little awkward at the start, but we soon got into it. And as much as I wanted to know about them, they devoured every detail of my life.
However, there was one thing they asked of me…. “Do what you say, see it through Chris”.
I didn’t really understand; innocently I had never thought otherwise, why would I?
But they educated me…
I began to understand the let downs they had experienced in their lives. Certainly, in the justice system where you are not trusted, nor listened to, and daily told that you are criminal, that you are ‘other’.
Today and sixty-six trainee placements on, things look a bit different…
Our reoffending rate is less than 6%.
Our employment rate is 91%.
LandWorks is still based on the same basic principles of honesty, genuineness, trust and believing in others.
Our statistics evidence that the LandWorks resettlement model works.
Our accounts show it is good value for money, remarkably good value for the Government and their privatised probation companies because it doesn’t cost them a penny.
Money is such a constant in all of this. LandWorks costs around £180,000 a year to run, while reoffending alone costs us all around £15 billion each year.
I estimate about 90% of the mainstream prison population are serving custodial sentences because of some form of financial gain, whether it’s drugs money, fraud, robbery, extortion etc. Crimes committed for many reasons, escaping poverty, addiction, or just having a wonky moral compass*
Since July 2013, LandWorks has encouraged individuals to consider their values and embrace a rare opportunity to look at their life and change behaviour patterns.
And I do know why we do this at LandWorks…. Five years on and we can see it does make a difference.
*Wonky moral compass: an unreliable gadget, which seems to be installed during an individual’s formative years and causes so much harm primarily because the owners are not conscious that they are making poor decisions.