“I get anxious wherever I go, anywhere new or meeting people for the first time. My anxiety levels go sky-high… I think it’s gradually got worse over the years. Where I’ve gone into prison, and when I come back out, I’m missing chunks of peoples lives and I’m not used to seeing so many people around me. You’re restricted in prison. If they had their way, they’d keep you locked up 24/7.
The first few times at LandWorks I started to notice that the staff here are quite supportive. They encourage you. They don’t put you down, which is all good. If I was at home, I think I’d probably be twiddling my fingers, wondering what to do next and would probably go back to how I used to be. I’m trying to avoid that because my kids are getting older now and I’ve missed too much of their lives already. I don’t really want to miss any more of it.
I’m a lost cause. I never have thought very highly of myself. My missus says I’m pretty handy in the house, full-stop … hoovering, washing-up, feed the kids, do the washing. I can do all that, but I don’t want to sell myself as a house husband. She appreciates it.
I think I’ll be pleased with myself once I’ve gone and got myself a secure job where they pay a pension and I’m bringing an income home at the end of the week. I’ll be pleased with myself then. It’s a work in progress, I think.
I’m here voluntary. I’m on a licence. I’ve got a three-year licence. I’m not on community service, nothing like that. It’s just voluntary. I don’t have to be here, but I’d rather be doing something rather than just hanging around with the rest of the locals doing what they’re doing. It would only be a matter of time before I slipped back into that lifestyle. I’m getting older now. I don’t really want it.
It’s a start. I’ve got another three to go. I tried going straight the last time I got out, back in … I can’t remember what year it was. I can’t remember. I managed to stay out for about three or four years. The first three years I did get a couple of jobs, but it wasn’t permanent. I got made redundant a couple of times and the amount of jobs I applied for and all that, my criminal record has gone against me. It got to a point where I pressed that red button and I went back to what I knew best.
I’ve done a few labouring jobs, but nothing substantial. I really don’t want to go through the agencies because I see that as slave labour. Last time I was out … you know the Premier Inn at the racecourse, I helped build that, but I was the only labourer there … they expected you to work like a dog for nothing. So, I ended up … I had a word with one of my mates and got myself onto a stonemason company. It was only a short-term job because it was seasonal, and it was towards the end of the year. Work slacked off because it was winter and whatnot. I ended up getting myself a job on that. I still worked like a dog, building walls. We weren’t paid that much, but I had friends around me. I haven’t really done a lot over the years. I’ve sold more drugs than anything else and got nowhere fast.
The courts took me into care. I was out of control. I had a stepfather that used to encourage me to go out robbing and bring all the goods back to the house so he could take it down to the pub so he could get money for beer. A lot of stuff went on when I was younger. Social services got involved. I think the only reason why they got involved was because I was going the other way, criminally. I just built walls and became worse. I mixed with other like-minded people, you’re learning from them and because you’re young and naïve, you bounce off that. I bounced off it when I was a kid and got worse.
Now I’m feeling depressed. The way I see it, if I had the right parenting when I was younger and the right guidance, perhaps I wouldn’t be in this situation. You just don’t know, do you? I don’t rate myself very highly. I’m here, that’s the main thing.
Being here is slowly building my confidence up. It’s nice to get away from all the hustle and bustle. I like coming out here because it’s peaceful and quiet. You can hear the birds chirping away. The staff are supportive. They encourage you. They don’t put you down or anything like that, which people like me, need that sort of thing to help you move forward in life. I like the cooking. It’s a good place for peace of mind. It can stop people like me getting up to mischief. If I was back in [Town] doing nothing and I wasn’t coming here, then I’d probably be doing the same thing as I normally do. I wouldn’t say I like the cooking. I like the eating. I don’t mind it actually. I do it at home. I like being in the workshop. I’ve been spending a bit of time with Martin outside doing operations and that. That’s not too bad. I’m not really into the horticulture. I’m not really into the art. I’m not very artistic at all.
I’ve enjoyed the workshop. I like building things. I’ve built benches, bird-boxes, chopping boards, all sorts. Chris has allowed me to make some benches up for our kitchen table at home because of the kids. When I went away there were tables there, but when I came back, they were all broken, where they had been rocking back. So, Chris let me build some benches and I’ve taken them back home. The table doesn’t look right because of the benches, so he’s letting me build a table as well. He’s a good man.”