Chris’s blog: Prison, not Priory

Hello

Differences between people’s worlds are sometimes highlighted so clearly that you would think them miles apart – yet surprisingly, they could practically be neighbours.

During tea break on Tuesday, Wayne (LandWorks trainee) described his ‘f%#ked up world’ of addiction, broken family, abusive relations and struggling to survive in a South Devon town.

It is such a familiar story, never easy listening and I am often left marvelling at the determination it takes to choose to get out of this lifestyle.

Man walking through fieldA few weekends ago, over dinner, a GP told me that there were no drug issues in his part of South Devon! At first I thought he was joking, then there was a rather awkward silence when it became quite clear he wasn’t!

I have since wondered if a ‘drugs lifestyle’ is just not really thought about or properly understood. Is this because it is seen as a lifestyle choice?

Much of what LandWorks does is about getting people to understand another’s world. Is an acceptable drug term ‘recreational use’? Does this vaguely suggest that society thinks this to be okay?

Young Harry smokes a bit of weed here and there or pops a few pills; it’s cheaper than a pint!

“I am not simply suggesting… that drugs are not a problem in other parts of society – it’s just we don’t get many referrals from Eton”

For Wayne and many of the people I have worked with it’s just not like that. In areas of multiple deprivations (yes, really in South Devon), drug supply and use forms an alternative economy. For some it provides a means to blot out trauma, physical and mental abuse…escapism often leading to addiction.

I am not simply suggesting that these are the only reasons to use drugs; nor am I suggesting that drugs are not a problem in other parts of society – it’s just we don’t get many referrals from Eton. Wayne recently commented: “It was prison, not The Priory”.

So what’s my point? The figures are staggering: estimates suggest more than 50% of all crime is drug related; over £2.2bn per year in stolen goods.

Yet this comes from a very small percentage of the population, who arguably are economically disadvantaged and/or emotionally deprived.

Our guys would tell you it’s not a great lifestyle choice, but I wonder – is it really as simple as choice? The genetic lottery as to where you are born doesn’t necessarily help with your emotional development or behavioural decision-making.

Maybe it’s Wayne’s world we all need to talk about, you know – not the film, but the one down the road.

I have invited the GP to a LandWorks lunch.

Chris


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