Doris says: “You can’t just expect broken people to fix themselves. It doesn’t work like that…”

I’m Doris. I came to LandWorks about eight/nine weeks ago, not through community service, but through volunteering. I got a suspended sentence. My probation officer, who I’ve worked with for ages, he knows me really well … I was talking to him about going back to work. I wanted to start getting focussed and get back into employment and he recommended to come up here to start me into a routine and stuff like that. So, I came up here and not looked back since really, to be honest.

My dad was in the military. I was born in Cornwall and then we moved all over the place. We went to Germany. We’ve lived in Scotland. We’ve lived everywhere in the UK. Then dad came out of the Air Force. I went into care. So, I’ve moved around with care, locked up in secure units and stuff like that. When I got to 16, they just let me go from the care system and I got left at a hostel with £20 and was told to crack on with life. Then I got into drugs. I just never stopped moving around, but I went to school in north Devon […] and I’ve always had itchy feet, but I’ve always wanted to come home. My dad was Devonshire born and bred and I’ve always said I’d always go back to Devon at some point. Then I got to the stage where I just knew that I wanted to come back. It was like a calling sort of thing. So, I just locked my flat door, packed a suitcase, put the dog on a lead, got on a train, landed in north Devon and started again really. It’s the best thing I ever did.

When you’ve been on your own since you were 16, just moving around, it doesn’t bother you at all. It’s just whatever. As long as you’ve got the suitcase and the dog, you’re alright. […] It shapes you. You can come out of trouble one way or the other. You can either come out fighting or you can just let it consume you for the rest of your life. I think people that’s been through trauma, they either survive or they don’t. Sadly, a lot of people don’t. They end up taking their own lives or whatever and it’s quite sad. I’ve been lucky enough to come through it, I think.

Coming to LandWorks, I was a bit dubious at first because I’ve obviously been to projects up country and I’ve been on community service before, but their community service up country is insane. It’s like cleaning bridges in January and it’s pretty harsh. They put you in big boiler suits with ‘community payback’ written on the back and you’re out there and everybody’s shouting at you. When my probation oficer said about it, I said but I’m not on community service and he was like, I know you’re not, don’t think of it as community service, it’s not that. I was like, but I didn’t get community service, why the fuck should I … and he was like, just go. So, I was like, ok, alright.

The first couple of times I was a bit quiet, just trying to get to know what was going on, but then I started to really get into it. It’s nice. It’s got me into a routine. Because I know I’m going back to work soon … it’s like I’ve started getting myself up at half-seven through the week and just have one night in a week instead of just getting up when I feel like it because I’ve got to get myself back into that routine. So, I’ve started. By being here, that’s managed me to get my arse out of bed. It’s given me structure and routine. I don’t like to say it, but my probation officer is always right as usual. I should’ve just listened to him and got on with it. I kept saying yeah, yeah, I’ll do it next week and he would say, no, we’re doing this and I was like, no we are not and there is no ‘we’, it’s ‘me’, not ‘we’.

I really like it here. It’s going to be a shame when I go back to work not to be able to come here. It’s a very unique project. You don’t see this anywhere else and it is very much around rehabilitation as well. That’s the key to everything, isn’t it? If you just chuck people that have been in the system out to fend for themselves, they’re going to fail because they’re broken people. Anyone that’s in the prison system, mental health system or whatever system you’re in, you are broken and that’s it. You can’t just expect broken people to fix themselves. It doesn’t work like that. So, it’s very unique. Chris should be very proud of himself for developing it. If they put this into practice in more places, I think it would help drop the numbers of people re-offending.

It’s like a unit. It’s not a family unit because it’s not like that at all. It’s like everyone’s linked together. No-one looks down on anyone. We’re all there to support each other if anyone needs help. It’s just having a chat with people about your experiences and stuff like that. That helps, but it’s not under any pressure either. I was out with Sarah just doing the weeding and she was asking me about my story, and we were just chatting doing that. That side of it I like because it’s not structured. It’s not in a sterile environment where you’ve got to do that and tick this box. It’s a relaxed approached to being able to share what you’ve been through with other people. I like that side of it.”

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