Pilot scheme offers skills training to prisoners
A ground-breaking scheme to give prisoners and offenders the skills and experience to put a life of crime behind them has been launched in the Westcountry.
Working with HMP Channings Wood and Devon and Cornwall Probation Service, the Dartington Hall Trust has devised LandWorks which is helping four men – three on day release from prison while the other is on probation.
The first group of trainees are getting a taste of working as a team, and landscaping and construction training.
Buy one get one free on main course and specials excludes fillet steaks and beef wellingtons
Must book to qualify and present voucher on arrival 01209860332
Contact: 01209 700617
Valid until: Wednesday, December 11 2013
Erwin James, author and Guardian columnist, who spent many years in prison, and Totnes MP Sarah Wollaston launched the scheme at Quarry Field on the Dartington Hall Estate in South Devon.
"Getting out of prison can almost be as traumatic as going in," Mr James said. "You may come out with good intentions, but faced with the various problems that most released prisoners face: limited job prospects, accommodation worries, perhaps family or relationship issues and worst of all an unwelcoming community – the chances of a successful reintegration into society are slim. That is why prisoner re-offending rates are so high in the UK.
"The fact is it takes courage for a community to take an interest in and share some responsibility for those coming out of prison.
"What is happening at Dartington is bold and courageous. The LandWorks project is an initiative that will help the prisoners involved, but equally importantly if not more so will make the community safer. More rehabilitated former prisoners means fewer potential future victims."
Ministry of Justice figures show that 47% of adult prisoners are reconvicted within one year of release. The same percentage say they have no qualifications compared to 15% of the working age population in the UK.
In 2011-12, just 27% of prisoners entered employment on release from prison
Dr Wollaston said: "We have to do all we can to prevent offenders becoming trapped in the revolving door between prison and community.
"LandWorks offers a better way with constructive connections, training and support. Combining the skills of volunteers and in future, wounded service personnel, LandWorks builds bridges back to society and I hope that even more people will be interested to share their own skills as LandWorks volunteers in the future."
When fully established, LandWorks hopes to offer places to more than 20 ex- offenders each year.
Each will have to apply for the scheme before they are released from prison, outlining their motivation to change and stating what they want to achieve from the training.