A frosty start, wisps of wood smoke and the tip tap of hammers a hammering. The creative festive hum is only occasionally punctuated by a distressing wailing from the wood workshop as Graham attempts a Christmas song.

Our Christmas stall (at the field gate) is bursting with Yuletide gifts, all made by LandWorks. I would like to say crafted by elves or even Santa’s little helpers but the lads explained, in less than festive terms, that they were not any of the above or pixies…err No.

I stick my head into the Art Dept. (aka the porta cabin), it’s warm from the recent pottery firings. Jarvis looks up from his handywork. He fixes me with a steely eye, simultaneously holding up a tiny cute pine cone hedgehog and laughs… “I was armed and did banks…now look at me!”

The stall is attracting many customers (you should come over), some people just like the whole enterprise, everything from fresh veg to wooden bowls.

While others are content to pick and choose…Purchasing from our eclectic pottery range, a few prefer to browse the various chopping boards or simply buy Christmas cards and chutneys. For one or two, it’s our amazing mirrors made from Ash and Oak. We have something for everyone.

Which is a metaphor for LandWorks itself.

People can pick and choose the parts of LandWorks they feel comfortable with and others basically trust the whole initiative. One of our great enabling strengths is that LandWorks attracts supporters with such a wide range of opinions and beliefs but a common aim.

So, if you have read thus far… what are you doing?  You should be on the way to our shop, those hedgehogs are going fast.


“The eagle-eyed quizzers amongst you might have spotted an error on the quiz circulated last week. I must have been burning the candle at both ends when I wrote it…!


Question 10 of Section G Cryptic Christmas (back page) – the answer is actually 6 letters not 5:


Light part of music and learning (6)……………………….




A huge thank you to all who took part in the 2016 Quiz last year, the total amount raised reached £1140. We want to beat that this year, with a target to raise £1500.

This year’s quiz is now ready for you to complete with family and friends over the festive period.

Please also forward this onto others to spread the competition far and wide, or send the quiz in your Christmas cards – have you seen our new festive cards available on the stall? (images below)

And there are prizes…!


For the winning draw from those who complete the whole quiz correctly


For the first three entries out of the hat, whether correct or not, or incomplete:

  • A LandWorks Bench, handmade by people in or at risk of going to prison
  • £50 cash prize
  • £25 cash prize


Click the button above to download the quiz, print, and fill in as much as you can (don’t worry if you can’t complete it – your £5 will still count as a raffle entry). Alternatively, you can collect the quiz from the LandWorks Market Garden Stall (at our gate entrance on the Dartington drive).

We suggest a donation of £5 (cash or cheque) to accompany your entry to the quiz.

For each £5 donation, your entry will have one allocated number in the draw (For example: a donation of £15 counts as three entries in the draw).

Please make cheques payable to ‘LandWorks’ and post your entry to:
LandWorks Quiz, Quarry Field, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6EA

The closing date for entries is 25th January 2018. Winners will be informed by the end of January. The correct answers will be available to view on the Quiz page 31st January and not before!



It’s All Been A Bit Of A Misunderstanding


I’ve answered the phone, hesitating because I didn’t recognise the number.

“It’s Frank, you alright mate?”

As it happens I am, it’s Friday morning, and the sun’s out. “Chris tell me this… why do you work with scum like us?”

“You’re not scum Frank”.

He pauses… I’m now immediately worried, there’s more to this… But it turns out he just wants reassurance about a job interview and of course I’ll do a reference. He left LandWorks a year ago and he’s doing okay after a life time of jail.

Today we’ve an interesting cohort. The LandWorks Over 50s club is very full and, broadly, this is reflecting the aging prison population. In two years 25% of prisoners will be over 65.

I enjoy the current chat, it’s often about my era. Lads who’ve lived a life, many stories, many Clash fans. Generally, we’ve more in common than not, but especially music.

To be quite honest, the addicts, the robbers, the f#@ked up … well, they are just people, mostly trying to sort out life, I find it hard to see them as ‘other’.

Slightly to counter this of late, we are working with more ‘white collar criminals’, fraudsters really. And they certainly don’t class themselves as scum, no no no, they would like you to think of them differently. “Err, being jailed is just a bit of an, err, misunderstanding.”

Harder to deal with because, ohhhh my god, they’re good! Suddenly they can position themselves alongside me, flipping me over, before I can even say ‘toast’. He is broadcasting, “Chris and I stand shoulder to shoulder on this matter” … when I was simply trying to indicate that the Marmite is for everyone, not just Mr Sneaky!

It doesn’t mean their journey is any less; in fact they’ve often further to travel. We probably work harder, building trusting relationships, and encouraging honesty.

Music is proving a great way to bring us all together. We have a few people who can really sing, play guitar, and a great back catalogue (the 50s club firmly rooted in 1979). There are plans afoot to form a band. ‘Cosmic Lettuce’, you heard it here first folks!

Friday is playing out its last few chords and I’m home opening my front door. There’s a note on the mat from Gareth Jones. Jonesy came to work with me on the day of his release from HMP Channings Wood almost ten years ago. Still in touch, he’s doing alright, settled in Torbay.

He’s after a bit of advice, wants to work with addicts, robbers and the f#@ked up.



Great News

Ted’s bike ride campaign has beaten all targets, and raised a staggering £40,000 including match-funding and gift aid.

A huge thank you from all of us at LandWorks to Ted and everyone who has supported him on this epic effort.

Although the sponsorship is now finished, you can read Ted’s blog here

Diary extract: 8th November 2013 (LandWorks has been up and running for 4 months)

Apparently last night in prison, Joe was again doing his peculiar Hitler impersonation. Terrifying I should have thought, moustache, slicked back hair and goose stepping around the wing until bang up.

Yesterday I had to stop him working at 4.15 pm, practically drag him into the van, he wants to painstakingly scrub the rock (old quarry face) with a tooth brush, almost as if he’s trying to scrub his past away?

Porta cabin was very cold this morning, we need to get a wood burner in place, somebody has kindly donated the proceeds from a cake sale to buy the chimney.

The lads are keen to design a garden. Barry (here on probation licence) is the lead, having 100s of ideas every waking minute. I am learning that in amongst the stream of nonstop thoughts, is often a nugget of genius.

The intermittent mobile reception at the field is difficult, keeps cutting out when I try to talk to Sarah up in the office on the estate. Not helpful and serious if I need to contact the prison.

Ian found lunch too much today… Managed to control his temper (I saw his fist clench), he simply walked out when a young visitor told him he should eat his carrots.… I gave him 5 mins, went to find him, he was okay… told him my son didn’t like carrots much (same age 23), Ian said if she’d been a bloke he would have taken him out… Ho hum.

Rich made us all laugh… although I think slightly at my expense. Tomorrow we’re planning a breakfast treat of scrambled eggs (our hen’s eggs), I like mine runny… the others clearly do not, Rich is teasing me “cos it shows you’re posh, not council estate”.

We are still exploring if it is possible for him to resettle here. Greater chance of success, than back in his old haunts in North Devon. Lot to get finalised not least a policy change for LandWorks, Rich will have an initial placement with LandWorks after release. Probation in North Devon delighted to get rid of him… South Devon not so delighted to accept him. A big move for Rich… He’s only ever been away from home to go to Prison.

By the end of the day Barry’s chest is wheezing badly, he has a cup of tea and then heads off on his bike… which looks several sizes too small. The rest prepare for the journey back to Prison, Joe does a final scrub, there’s a lot to do, in every sense!

We finally head off to prison, with everyone reminding me that it is a criminal offence to drive without an MOT… I need to book that and a service. And sort out insurance so others can drive.

Home to my ‘missus’… they tell me “my missus” is the chief, she is picking them up tomorrow morning…

They’re not daft.

9th November 2017: Today

The key to success remains the same: building strong individual helping relationships… Not friends nor mates, but equally not seeing offenders as just numbers.

Those four men in 2013, paved the way for others, our 54th trainee starts on Monday.

Rich was the first to resettle in this area (Dec 2013) followed by another 8. (not sure how aware Totnes is of this)

Employment rate for ROTL trainees is 98%
Employment rate for community trainees is 85%
Those reporting an improvement in well-being is 100%
Reoffending rate for all trainees is less than 4%

Joe has stopped scrubbing.




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Feedback is essential for helping LandWorks develop, perhaps you could take a few minutes to give us some feedback…

Click here to complete the LandWorks Supporters Questionnaire Autumn 2017



A tired voice is explaining, “Look Chris, I was actually in favour of privatising rehabilitation” he sighs, “but I was wrong, there are real problems…they have even removed the word probation from my job title”

As he speaks I have been watching a spider. A long thread hangs down over our name board (everyone who engages here ceremoniously burns their name into a thick plank of oak), painstakingly our spider is climbing back up.“If at first you don’t succeed try, try and try again” Robert the Bruce.

We are now in a situation where inside any prison and outside, there can be several organisations offering more or less the same rehabilitation services to the fortunate offender.
This does sound good…

But payment by results and competition means the various companies obviously try to pick the same ‘lowest hanging fruit’, the easy ‘slam-dunks’, identifying people who will stay in employment. Thus, triggering a payment…. When there is every possibility that these capable individuals would get a job anyway!
I continue to look at our name board… there are many names who simply would not attract the interest of the ‘fruit grabbers’, or at least not until they had been here for a few months of LandWorks support.

There are two names on the board (out of 51) who, on paper, as prisoners, were absolute certainties for success. Middle aged, middle class chaps, loving families, good education, they could organise a diary, keep appointments…and even talked of their Italian cars!

They knew how it all works, and ooohhhh yes, they were real payment by results fodder.

The others are more like my spider friend; life is not so easy and they do periodically slip down.

The available support network for men leaving prison is a bit like trying to get your Alpha Romeo Spider (it’s a car) repaired after it breaks down and finding that you have to take it to a different garage to fix each part and each garage is in a different place. None of them share information, so you have to repeatedly explain the problem each time.

In contrast the LandWorks Web (keeping spider analogy going) is an intricate design, put together to provide complete rehabilitation support for those who try and, like us, are not giving up.



We need your feedback…

Feedback is essential for helping LandWorks develop, perhaps you could take a few minutes to give us some feedback…

Click here to complete the LandWorks Supporters Questionnaire Autumn 2017