Half way through!
We are now half way through our campaign. We are so grateful to all those who have supported us so far, by donating & by telling others about it. Progress has been slower than we hoped, but everything donated here will help us get started sooner on our first site in Kent.
This update will tell you more about our first project and answer some questions you may have.
Our first project.
Unfortunately prison service media policy means that we can't show you photos of the site. But we can try to describe it!
We will be working in an Open Prison, where the men are at the end of their sentences and preparing for release. This means that we can include them not just in growing the produce, but in selling it. We want to involve them in every aspect of running the project, giving them as much responsibility as possible, as a way of training them & passing on skills that they can use for the rest of their lives. We have been offered full use of an old horticulture area which includes 7 large polytunnels. This area was once a productive kitchen garden, but staffing cuts in the last few years mean that it is no longer used & is becoming derelict. So there are lots of thistles to dig out, tunnels to re-cover & rabbits to ward off, but once that is done it will become a thriving, productive area once again. We will also provide the opportunity for prisoners to gain NVQs that were cut from the curriculum as part of the spending cuts.
The physical transformation that is going to take place there over the next year is a symbol of the transformation that will also be taking place in peoples' lives. Unhelpful things removed, new things planted & nurtured, abandoned talents, abilities and dreams restored & brought back to life......I have seen hundreds, maybe thousands of offenders radically change already & am looking forward to seeing even more.
What if we don't reach the target figure?
Every penny you donate here will reach us & be spent on the work we have told you about. It will cost about 20K to buy the equipment we need & pay our tutor for 6 months until the site becomes fully productive. If we don't raise that amount here, we will look for other ways to fundraise. We are talking to potential sponsors & we will apply to grant-making trusts. Although it will be very disappointing not to raise what we need here, after all the time & effort that has gone into it, no way will we give up! Our start date would be delayed until we have the funds, but we will get there in the end. This project has to happen! We have 8 prisons waiting for it already!
Why isn't the government paying for this?
The government pay for prisoner education out of our taxes. Over recent years there have been huge budget cuts, which means that many prisons can no longer afford to provide horticulture training, or even to use & maintain their horticulture areas. There are prisoners wanting to be trained, and greenhouses & polytunnels standing unused, waiting for someone to fill the gap.
HOWEVER, we don't think that the taxpayer should ever pay for this kind of training, even if the money was available. If it is possible for a subject to be taught in a way that it can cover its own costs - train people for free - then surely that is the option we should go for? Why expect the tax-payer to pay for something that, with a bit of imagination, could be made to pay for itself?
Furthermore, the working environment we aim to create will be quite different from what exists in prisons at the moment. We want it to be as much like the outside world as possible, as this will prepare people more effectively for `real jobs'. If you have never had a real job, how do you know what is expected of you when you get one?!
Why would anyone want to waste their money on criminals?
Under the old system where the taxpayer paid for everything, some of our money WAS being wasted.
But with this project, any money you give is actually an investment.
It will help reduce crime, reduce the consequences of crime, increase family stablitity, increase employment, reduce poverty, increase productivity & the number of people using their talents & abilities positively instead of negatively.
It will save us all money - 90k a year on the costs of crime per offender, for each person we successfully help keep out of trouble. That becomes tens of millions in just a few years.
There is no way anyone can regard that as a waste!
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