Eric says: “I used to thrive off the narrow escapes of my own recklessness”

In prison I kept myself to myself. I just stood back and done my time. I saw it as a golden opportunity. I wanted to go to prison. I got stuck in a rut. I lost my job due to alcohol and drugs. Slowly, accommodation started to grind to a halt […] Where do you go from there? You don’t really, apart from prison. So, I just thought that was a golden opportunity to get myself clean, detox, and find out who I am in a sense, sober. It was the only way I could get myself clean. I tried doing the whole rehab type scenario. It doesn’t work because you go out and you just pick up again because you’ve still got your old mates around.

I think towards the end of my sentence that I knew I was getting released, I was getting more agitated, so I wanted to remove myself from people, not to give anyone a reason to prevent me getting released or any altercations.

That’s the hard bit … adjusting. You’ve got to adjust to prison life. It’s a different world in there, it truly is. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life. Yeah, then you’ve got to adjust to coming back out here, which is scary. It’s like its own little world in there. Everything runs differently. Forget what you know out there because you’re not out here, you’re in there, it’s different rules. [Such as] Morality. It’s like a type of code. You’ve got to get along with people. You’re shoved on a wing with 150 other people. You’ve just got to respect them. You can’t be shouting out because you will get hurt and you’ve got these officers … if they tell you to jump, you’ve got to jump, otherwise it’s going to be well bad for you. It’s weird. You’re nothing, you’re nobody in there. So, I found that quite weird, but you adjust to it. You just play ball.

I did work for the council. I was a bin-man for six years. I’ve done various kitchen work. Odd jobs here and there. So yeah, I have worked. I am a worker, but obviously when you’re doing drink and drugs it’s impossible to balance both.

All the people I associated with, other than family prior to prison, I don’t speak to no more. So, that’s why it’s nice coming out here to have social networking. A new line of friends you could call it, just people you can communicate with that isn’t solely based around drugs, which unfortunately is a massive culture in Britain. I was a part of it, but I’m not no more.

LandWorks? It’s routine, it’s structure. It is a little place away. A little haven you could call it.

It’s that chance to give people to achieve something. You come in feeling bad or negative and all that and you’ll walk away feeling yeah, look at what I’ve done.

It’s the structure. So, you’ve got the market gardens, you’ve got your pottery and you’ve got your woodwork. That’s the three elements to your day here and each of them, at the end of it, there’s something out of it, as in harvesting the crops, finishing a table, or finishing a cup or a pottery bit, you’ve done something, and you can look at that and think I’ve done that.

The staff he’s got as well, they give you that sense of look what you’ve done. They make you realise what you’re doing and it’s good. When I first come I thought … they ask questions, which is good. They talk to you. They don’t just say go and do this and leave you to it, they engage with you, which is really good. Numbers as well. Because it’s a small community, that works […] If it gets to the point where you can’t fit any more people around the table, you know it’s going to go wrong.

Here, you’re not getting paid, well you are, but not in the sense of currency as in money, you’re getting paid with self-achievement, self-esteem, self-satisfaction, confidence. That is your reward from this place. Yeah, and it’s not like blatantly obvious, it’s subliminal, conscious wise. You don’t walk away being told that, you just feel it and you think to yourself I done that today or I’m talking about it and I’m excited while I’m talking about it, and others can see that.

It’s nice to know that you’re in an environment where people are rooting for you and you’re not just another number or name on a piece of paper you’ve got to tick off. What I like about this place as well is it makes you face reality, but in a good way. Like in the poly-tunnels, you’ve got time to think, a bit of solace in there.

I reckon I’d be a bit more screwed without it. I like to think everything happens for a reason. I think you have to have the bad to have the good. The sun wouldn’t feel good if it wasn’t for rain. I like to think I’ve had enough shit in my life now, some of it self-inflicted. This is strange … I used to thrive off the narrow escapes of my own recklessness. Yeah, I got myself into a bit of a jam, but I’m on the happy side of it now. I used to thrive off the narrow escapes until now.

Now? Just knowing there’s a future, knowing there’s paths to go down, more relationships to build, a career to build…

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