• Big Lottery Fund backs ground-breaking prisoner project
• Read blogs about the project from LandWorks manager, Chris Parsons
Supporters of a ground-breaking initiative helping reintegrate ex-offenders into Devon communities have been hailed as ‘incredible’ after their efforts secured a major cash boost from The Big Lottery Fund.
The Dartington LandWorks scheme, based on land at Dartington Hall near Totnes, provides training, support and useful connections in the community through a network of 400 supporters for former offenders to develop the skills, self-worth and confidence to help them find and secure jobs.
Former prisoners have already found employment in a range of roles since completing the scheme, which started in July 2013. Around £37,000 a year of taxpayers’ money is saved for every LandWorks trainee who does not re-offend and return to prison.
Today The Big Lottery Fund, which is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need, announced that it will fund 60% of the project (£330,455) over the next three years to help the project expand.
LandWorks Project Manager Chris Parsons said: “It’s fantastic news. We are hugely grateful to The Big Lottery Fund and to our incredible supporters. We simply wouldn’t have got the grant if we hadn’t been able to prove the high level of community support that exists for this project.
“Their support is so vital – from finding job opportunities and fundraising to providing the skills and expertise that ex-offenders need if they are to successfully re-integrate and positively contribute to society.
“We’ll continue our fundraising work to secure the remaining 40 per cent of the funds needed to expand our project and create a new training centre to reduce re-offending in our communities.”
The Big Lottery grant includes contributions toward project costs, equipment and a new permanent training and work building. It will allow the project to expand to offer places to more trainees over the next three years.
The aim of LandWorks is to make communities safer, with more resettled prisoners developing a strong work ethic; learning skills including outdoor landscaping, horticultural and carpentry; as well as life experiences to help put crime behind them. All this results in fewer future victims of crime.
LandWorks supporter, Christie Gavin, said: “This is such a fantastic boost to LandWorks and such an endorsement of the community support, now and for years to come.”
Detective Sergeant Anya Teakle said: “Without access to projects such as Dartington LandWorks we at the TurnAround integrated team (Police/Probation/Health) would have no meaningful way to give people an alternative to their previous patterns of offending – meaning that true rehabilitation and social integration would be nigh on impossible.”
Earlier this year Nick Hardwick, HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, praised the project – the first of its type in the country – after visiting Devon to see it for himself in September, and said: “Resettlement schemes like this give former prisoners and offenders useful horticultural and carpentry skills, but they do more than that.
“Prisoners also develop the skills and habits they need – such as teamwork and reliability – to get and hold down a job. Having a job can help prisoners turn away from crime and live law-abiding and purposeful lives.”
Find out more about supporting LandWorks.