Sandy: started coming to LandWorks at the end of March and has been referred through probation. He recently moved to the area to be near his grandparents. In the past, he has worked in an elderly care home, a nursery for children and for a waste disposal company. He is the eldest in his family and has two brothers. He was diagnosed as lactose intolerant at the age of two and subsequently doesn’t consume milk or cheese. He is into his music and is looking for work, with the prospect of possibly starting a woodworking or other training course in September.

Simon: was referred to LandWorks from the end of November and is on probation. He last worked as a care-worker and is looking to get into that line of work again. Previously he worked in the building trade after leaving the army, where he served 12 years from the age of 16, working in the Lifeguards and Household Cavalry. It was when he was in the household cavalry that he sustained the first of two serious life changing head injuries. The first from a horse in the cavalry and the second five years ago in a near fatal motor bike accident. He has bi-polar because of the first head injury and is currently taking stabilising medication. He has grown up children and a supportive family. He is currently living on his brother’s farm in Devon.

Brett: is on probation and started coming to LandWorks in November. In the past he worked as a self-employed landscape gardener and had his own gardening business for about four years. He always worked until he was forced to stop due to health issues which arose as a result of long term drug abuse.  He is enrolled on a rehabilitation course, which he attends on a regular basis. He enjoys working in the art room and gardening. He has also recently started cooking, which is something he had never really done before. He is the father of twin two-year-old boys.

James: started his placement at LandWorks at the end of November. In the past he enjoyed doing ground works and worked on the Newton Abbot bypass. He has also worked as a general builder, as a foreman on a building site and had been making plans to start his own business. He has come to LandWorks to get back into a work frame of mind, having recently secured permanent accommodation (after a period of sofa surfing, sleeping in cars and occasionally on a bench at the seafront). He says he doesn’t want to commit any more crime or get into any more trouble and is hoping to get back into the building trade. He has two daughters and is slowly rebuilding his relationship with the eldest.

Rodney: has been involved with LandWorks since April. He mainly does the woodwork and construction side of things. He has his level two construction skills diploma, but is happy to get stuck in to all aspects on the site. Although carpentry is his specialty everything he does here he finds beneficial. He says he’s always learning something new. He doesn’t come out hoping to do one thing or another, he likes to do a bit of everything. He says because everyone here wants to turn themselves around it is a better environment for him. It is a motivator for change.

Matthew: has recently been involved with LandWorks for nearly six months. He says he enjoys being ‘feminist and fabulous’ (he wears this apron when he’s cooking). He’s been working in the workshop, has helped on the cob wall and the electrics for the new building. He really likes driving the dumper truck and is brilliant at selling products on the stall to passers by. He says if it wasn’t for LandWorks he’d be sat in a prison cell, or in a lot of trouble. Recently he’s been cooking for everyone and his garlic bread is legendary, along with his lasagne.

Graham: is an experienced carpenter and builder, who was a trainee at LandWorks for 12 months from July 2015. During this time he worked on the new building from start to finish, which is testament to his skills and attention to detail. After two and a half years in prison being at LandWorks was a blessing for the last 12 months of his sentence. He involved himself in all aspects of the project, he thoroughly enjoyed cooking and making produce to sell, from wooden items to mince pies. He was released from prison at the end of July 2016 and is now employed at LandWorks as a woodwork trainer.

Sarah and Julie working on the blog – photo by Matthew

Sarah: is a Plymouth-based artist, specialising in creating visual art with socially excluded groups. She has collaborated with current and ex-offenders at LandWorks since 2013 to create a range of artworks. For this project Sarah will work with Julie and the participants to curate an exhibition of the photographs, while helping to update the blog.

Julie: is a sociology lecturer at Plymouth University and lead researcher for the PeN Project. Julie has been involved with LandWorks in a number of capacities (e.g. driver, supporter, cook), since the scheme began. Most recently completing research as a Sociology of Health and Illness Foundation (SHI) Mildred Blaxter research fellow, examining ‘commensality’ (eating together around a table) as a tool for health, well-being, social inclusion and community resilience. She has also worked with a number of colleagues on a range of research projects incorporating visual methods and participatory approaches.

NB. Trainee biographies are anonymized.