Hello

The PeN Project has been running for a year now, with over 50 blogs viewed around the world, in 61 different countries.

All of this is great, but the really important connection has emerged that PeN provides a conduit for men to explain their lives to the community that they hurt… quite unique.

The below is a great example of just one such blog.

Chris


Jarvis says: “It makes me anxious just to do that normal stuff…”

Posted on October 5, 2017 by PeN Project

“I think it’s important to say that I’ve been a long-term criminal most of my life. I’ve come to a stage in my life that I’ve had enough. I’ve hurt so many people, including myself. All the relationships that I’ve had with my children… I haven’t been there for anybody really. Then, obviously, there’s all the victims involved with the crimes and that’s caused all sorts of problems. I was looking around … I was talking to someone the other week in jail and there’s no goodness that’s come out of it – none. I’m in my 50s all of a sudden, and there’s no goodness that’s come out of it at all. I’ve literally ruined everything I’ve touched. I wasn’t aware of that, I was just doing what I was doing, but, now, I just want a bit of peace in life. I think to be part of something else is quite important for me. I’ve been part of a criminality world, but that’s just so much rubbish, that’s just nonsense really when I think about it. Sometimes I think to myself I don’t recognise myself. I think to myself “did I really do all of that?”

So, it’s been really important for me to come here. I’ve had nice people in my life before, in ones, but here I’ve found a lot of people who are all trying to help me and that’s quite significant for me to have everyone trying to help me. That’s how it feels like, everyone’s trying to help me and that’s how it does feel and that’s really good. It makes me feel secure. I’m moving to live in this area and that takes a lot of pressure off me. There’s no expectations of me, which is fantastic. I really need that. I don’t have to worry about image and ego because no-one really knows me, so, now it’s down to me to start on a little new plan in my life and to do it the right way. It’s quite fearful doing that, starting again. It’s like I’ve lost everything and I’m starting again and I’m 50-odd. That’s quite frightening in its own way.

Doing new things, just like going shopping. I’ve never really been shopping before. I’ve driven my wife to the shops, but I’ve never done the shopping. I might have gone in and paid the bill, right at the end. I think I’ve gone in there once or twice, maybe at Christmas or something, but no, I’ve never done … and I never realised… I suppose it depends what sort of money you’re on, you’ve got to go and budget, you have to go into different shops. If I had some money in my pocket now my immediate reaction would be “let’s go to the first shop and get what we need”, instead of these places like Lidl and little things like that. It’s so frightening. It makes me anxious just to do that normal stuff.

Cooking – I’ve never cooked for myself. So, I appreciate what goes on here… people helping, learning to cook. Actually, I’m quite surprised that I like it. That’s the funny thing. I didn’t think I’d like it, I didn’t do it, it was just there. I’ve enjoyed it. That’s what I like about it, I enjoy it. So, that’s really good.

I have got certain skills, but I’m not sure how I’m going to put them skills into practice. But, with the criminality and my lifestyle and what’s happened, that really affects your self-worth. I know most people think I’m confident, and I am in certain areas, but my self-worth’s quite low. I know I’m actually quite a caring person, quite a sensitive person really and my empathy’s quite good. I can give that out, but giving that to yourself inside’s different. It’s bizarre really. I don’t recognise that I’m doing something that’s good or whatever. I don’t recognise it. You can tell me and I’ll go “yeah, yeah” and then I’m onto the next thing and I don’t really give it any thought. The biggest thing that’s happened to me is when the project manager said to me yesterday about how it’s really nice to have me about and I thought “yeah?” and he said I was so happy, but I don’t really see that in myself. Maybe that’s because of the amount of time I’ve done…

All I know, at the end of the day, is I like coming out here, I like the people I’m around, I like the area I’m around, I like everything I hear about all sorts of stuff in the south-west and it’s just a lot more peaceful and nicer. That’s what I’ve been looking for all my life really, a bit of peace…”


We need your feedback…

Feedback is essential for helping LandWorks develop, for the sake of people like Jarvis. So perhaps you could take a few minutes to give us some feedback… 

Click here to complete the LandWorks Supporters Questionnaire Autumn 2017

 

Hello

There are a couple of things I haven’t told you…

This time last year, there was a man at LandWorks called Jarvis, he got caught up in a prison incident. As a result, he was removed from LandWorks and slid all the way back down the Jail snake to square one. It has taken him exactly one year to climb back up the ladders (metaphorical ladders, not the ones that get you over walls) and out again to LandWorks.

The other thing I haven’t mentioned is, I like Pink Floyd, I just never really told anyone (except Jarvis).

It’s hard to hide anything from Jarvis, because he’s done half a lifetime in prison, doesn’t tolerate fools, has a heightened sense of the truth, and now only deals with total honesty. Jarvis wheedled it out of me.

I had no idea, after the incident, if he would ever be allowed out here again, I just believed he would…

How I wish, how I wish you were here.
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl,
Year after year,
Running over the same old ground.
What have we found?
The same old fears.
Wish you were here

(A commentary on how people cope with the world by withdrawing physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Roger Waters, Pink Floyd.)

 

In his year of absence, I always sent him a card, from our holidays and weekends away. Always carefully scribing ‘Wish you were here’… I like to think he enjoyed the nod to Pink Floyd. Although I must admit he’s still not said anything… err I’m sure he will!

But he has said a lot of other stuff…after a year away he’s noticing quite a few changes at LandWorks, happily providing feedback and comments on how we can improve things.

Feedback is essential for helping LandWorks develop. So perhaps like Jarvis you could take a few minutes to give us some feedback… Click here to complete the LandWorks Supporters Questionnaire Autumn 2017

Thank you and Jarvis.

Chris

LandWorks Celebrates Four Transformational Years

Annual Supporters Day raises over £7K as project leader commits to 5 more years.

LandWorks, the pioneering prisoner resettlement scheme, welcomed over 180 supporters to its Annual Open Day on August 18 to celebrate another remarkable year of achievement.

Over £7K in vital funding was raised through sales of LandWorks produce, pledges and donations, and the future of the project assured with the announcement that LandWorks’ founder and inspirational manager, Chris Parsons, has committed to another five years.

As team members, trainees, graduates, supporters and representatives from the prison and probation services gathered at the site, the heavens opened, raining down hailstones on the assembled crowd. Five minutes later, the sun came out – a perfect metaphor for the project which seeks to transform the lives of those who have lost their way, and help them reintegrate into society.

“LandWorks is a real working environment where we believe in accomplishment and achievement. It is a safe place to be vulnerable, a place to build trust, to form good individual relationships. There are many ways here to develop a non-criminal identity.”

 

  • Chris Parsons

Illustrating the point, recent graduate Brett spoke movingly about a sculpture he was inspired to create at LandWorks by his childhood love of super heroes. ‘Transformation Man’ represented the journey he had made “out of the dark and into the light”. After 12 years of drug addiction and crime, Brett has turned his life around and regained joint custody of his twin boys.

Since it was founded in 2013, LandWorks has helped almost 50 men like Brett back into the community through work-based training such as landscaping, market gardening and woodworking, and the development of life and social skills. Over 95% of its graduates are now in employment, and the reoffending rate is just 4%within one year of release from prison, compared to a national average of 46%.

The past year has been an exceptional one for LandWorks, which was awarded Independent Charity status in May 2016. Since then, the project has doubled the size of its market garden and increased its wood working output – so much so, that the commercial enterprises run by LandWorks are on target to generate £50,000 in the next financial year, 25% of the organisations funding requirements.

In October 2016 LandWorks launched its trainee blog, the Pen Project, which offers the wider community a window into the lives and experiences of the trainees as they turn their lives around.  And in November 2016, LandWorks was visited by Peter Ainsworth, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund, who went on to single out the project for its “wonderful track record” saying in his introduction to the fund’s 2016/17 Annual Report, “it’s grass roots projects like these that make me proud to be part of the Big Lottery Fund.”

Fundraising remains key to the future of LandWorks, and during the Open Day, 65-year-old Chair of Trustees Ted Tuppen announced his 443 mile cycle in four days, from Penarth to John O’Groats, starting on September 18, in aid of the charity. Moreover, he would match fund every £1 sponsored. £2500 was pledged by LandWorks’ generous supporters on the day, resulting in a total of £6250 after gift aid and match funding.  An additional £1700 was generated through a raffle, one-off donations and sale of vegetables and wood crafts.

To make a single or regular donation, visit our NowDonate page

Ted Cycled for LandWorks

Hello

A message from Ted, our Chair of Trustees, on completing his gruelling fundraising Scottish bike ride:


“Well, the 65 year old in Lycra made it to John o’ Groats and had a wonderful experience along the way despite plenty of cold rain, unkind headwinds, bumpy roads, steep hills and muddy campsites. The cycling was tough. The 6ft x 4ft tent and the 4.30/5.30 starts in kit still wet from the day before were tougher. The camaraderie, determination and true grit of the 850 riders was the stuff of legend and the Threshold Sports team was unstintingly efficient, smiling and motivating throughout, despite having to cope with the worst conditions experienced by RAB over the 8 years it has been going….and most of the riders were doing the whole thing, 960 miles from Lands End over 9 days!! (rideacrossbritain.com)

A massive thank you to you all for your incredible support and generosity. Donations received are just nudging up to £15,000 which, with match funding will mean £30,000 for LandWorks. This far exceeds our expectations and will make a real difference to this wonderful project.

Some stats (according to my Garmin bike computer): I cycled 443 miles, pedalled for 33 hours and 15 minutes, climbed 23,141 feet and used 30,797 calories in four days (please never show me another energy drink or protein shake); no crashes and no mechanical issues other than a couple of punctures next to a lake which was home to Scotland’s largest population of midges; no injuries, just a few aches and pains; and an even greater understanding of the Threshold mantra “More is in you!”.

I thought it was just when out sailing that, unfairly, the wind is always on the nose. Well, it applies to cycling as well and, contrary to my hopes that the prevailing wind would blow from the south west and propel me northwards, the wind direction was steadily NWN until the last 50 miles when we turned right at the top of Scotland to head for John o’ Groats, when it turned easterly!  Days 1 and 2 saw gusts of 20+ mph, although it calmed down a bit for the last two days.

And rain…slip-streaming in a peloton is a wonderful labour-saving wheeze, except when the wheel in front is showering you with several gallons of puddle water every minute. And of course, we are all far too cool to consider having a sensible mud-guard!

Scotland is majestically beautiful. The sunshine on mountain tops and shimmering rainbows as we battled the wind through Glencoe and down towards Fort William lifted the flagging spirits. The further north, the greater the sense of remoteness. From Bonar Bridge to Bettyhill in the far north, admittedly 50 very early morning miles, we saw no more than a handful of cars as we swept past stunning lochs, tumbling waterfalls, isolated crofts and breathtaking mountain views.

The Scots (apart from a couple of drivers who put three people in hospital, one of them very lucky to be alive), were wonderfully supportive, from the police who helped to keep us safe to the young entrepreneurs at Thornhill Primary school who all turned out with bells, whistles, flags and “high 5’s” to sell us delicious cakes and life saving cups of tea….and to make us smile.

I can’t thank you enough for your kind words, your generosity and your friendship. You made sure I didn’t give up, even on the steepest climb, the wettest/ coldest descent or the 4.30 alarm that was only just louder than the rain on the tent.

Tired, a bit sore but unbroken,

Yours aye

Ted


You can still sponsor Ted by clicking here to visit the Total Giving page.

Chris

Hello

Somewhere this morning in the Scottish borders, a group of cyclists are heading North…all the way North in four days, aye!

One of the cyclists is our Chair of Trustees, Ted Tuppen. He has 443 miles ahead of him, this is a gruelling challenge. Ted is a very determined man and there will be many reasons he is pushing himself to do this.

But not least is his unwavering support for LandWorks, this bike ride is raising money for LandWorks. We are now beating the target so please keep giving because every donation, no matter what the size, is doubled – click here to visit the Total Giving page.

So, I think the story below is exactly why Ted supports LandWorks…

Peter left prison about two months ago. He is 48, worked all his life, then used drugs to mask the grief after his mum died and ended up serving two years in prison.

He is at LandWorks, getting to grips with his drug issues…almost there, in recovery and the realisation that he will be able to work again is becoming a reality, soon he will start applying for jobs.
Yet as a community we don’t half manage to stack up obstacles to stop him, traps to fall into and a series of problems that would turn a less determined man back to crime within days of release.

His weekly benefit is £67.

From this there are the following deductions:

  • £21 (rent top up, housing benefit has been reduced, so now does not cover the full rent. He has a single room in a lodge, no cooking facilities)
  • £5 court fines (we have appealed, cannot be altered)
  • £9 DWP (previous emergency benefits loan, appealed, cannot be altered)

This leaves £4.57 a day to live on.

Peter explained last week that he was struggling because the laundrette wash had used up £8.60.

So, LandWorks bought a second-hand washing machine. One of our day release prisoners is a plumber by trade. Now the whole porta cabin wildly vibrates on the spin cycle and the yard is decorated with Peter’s smalls fluttering on the line.

For the inaugural wash I purchased a commercial pack of washing powder ‘128 washes’, so 16p a wash! … Peter stared at me and said, “You want me here for another two and half years”.

Good luck Ted we are all thinking of you.

Chris