Max says: “That’s what you need stability, when you get out of prison… a little stability can create a big change”

“I didn’t have a criminal record until I was 40. I wasn’t a master criminal or nothing. It’s s*%t, isn’t it? [Lockdown in prison]… It was just s*%t, lying on a bed for six months. I don’t understand why they’re still doing it now. It’s still lockdown now in prison. F* knows what must be going around peoples’ heads. It’s horrendous… Seventy of you got let out in one go, so how could you all use the phone? They say that they’re giving us all phone calls, it’s all lies…

In prison [last year] they just let us all out in one go to get our dinner. There was no social distancing or nothing. It was just crap. Something should be done about it. They shouldn’t be locking people up like that, should they? Throw them into solitary confinement for seven months. I don’t get it. I understand if there’s a danger of you doing something, but if there’s no danger on you, they shouldn’t be putting you in prison at the minute because it’s just f*d up. I had to sleep with my heels hanging off the bed. They’re in agony still. They’re constantly aching as soon as I think of them. I didn’t feel it when I was in prison, but as soon as I’ve came out … and I had a bad back for three months. You always get reminded, even if you can stop thinking about it, there’s other things that take you back there.

I had that much self-hate it didn’t really bother me. In my head I deserved this anyway. Prison didn’t really bother me, if I’m honest. I saw it as a way of getting more control back over myself and thankfully it was a short sentence as well. Seven months, it’s short isn’t it?

They did let me, and my mate go on the same landing because we come from *** together and they saw we were decent lads, so the guards managed to get us on the same landing. That was about the best they could do. So, fair play to them in that respect.

Coming to LandWorks… I just liked it. It was alright. People actually did care. You’re not stupid, you can tell. It was alright. I just worked, got a bit of self-worth back, time to think. When you’ve been working all day, you can think. You start sleeping at night regularly as well. I was still in jail mode where I was sleeping for three or four hours and feeling tired and just drained all the time. I said to Chris, I wouldn’t be where I was now if it wasn’t for LandWorks. I’m not stupid, I know that. So, good on it.

I’ve worked In the gardens, a bit of pottery. I enjoy working in there on a Thursday with Sarah. That was nice and therapeutic. I enjoy working with Martin. He’s a good lad. In the woodwork shop. It’s been ok. It’s just a nice place, isn’t it?

That’s what you need, stability, when you get out of jail. You need stability and god, where are you going to get stability, it’s nowhere. A little bit of stability can create a big change.

I don’t expect anyone to do anything for me. I’ve never really wanted anyone to do anything for me. It was hard for me to accept a meal, to be honest, without being embarrassed about it at first. Just having a meal given to me by someone. I’ve always worked and looked after myself. It’s changed my view on the world. I don’t just want to take. I want to get myself in a good position and try and give something back. I don’t know in what way. I’ve been given an outlet now by coming here. It’s probably had more of an impact on me in the short time than anything. It’s had a bigger impact than the drugs had on me. That was all negative. But the short time I was here, it probably had a bigger impact in a more positive way. I look at it like that. It’s just happy really.

LandWorks helps in a big way, god, in many ways. It shows people they’ve actually got it in them to work. You can lose your confidence in prison. You don’t think you could work again. It gets into your head that bad and then you come out and it’s like a job. It shows people they can work again. Also, you’ve got people there as back-up, a bit of help. You’re not on your own. Even a big strong male like me, I wouldn’t normally be accepted on anything like this. It’s done in a way where you feel like you’re earning it, which is important. It’s hard to take help, especially as a male […] People like to value themselves, don’t they? Also, it’s good to add value to yourself, whichever way you want it. It gives you a bit of value and self-worth. You come out of prison and you’ve got none. You think you’re unemployable. You’re spoken to like shit in prison. You’re given a number. You have your name taken off you. That’s not good for the psyche, is it?

When you’re here it’s … sanctuary is one word I suppose because you’re just out the way of all the crap. It’s what it is really. It gives you a chance to breathe.

I spoke to Chris the other day on the phone. He texted me and said hello. I said thanks to him because I had my kids and if it wasn’t for this place, I wouldn’t have had my kids. It’s all been positive. It’s created so many other good things. Before here, it was all so negative. I’m just chuffed it’s here. I’m glad I came. Long may it continue. I told probation as well how good I’ve done since I’ve come here. Hopefully more people will try it.”

Photographs taken by Emma Winslet for

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