A prolific drug user and serial burglar came to see me for supervision and said that he'd walked past the office very late one evening earlier that week. He said the office was dark but he saw a light through a window and when he looked in he saw me working at my desk. He said he went home to his mum and told her that if his probation officer could work that hard to help people he could work as hard to help himself...... and he did.
There's obvious stuff like seeing people turn their lives around, people being grateful for your help and support and on the flip side making sure the community are safe, etc but there's also the funny stuff that comes from working with people. I remember doing some role play type work with a young offender about how he'd avoid peer pressure... I asked him out for a drink (role playing!!!!) and he said no, I said 'go on I'm buying'.. His face was a picture as he said 'ah go on then mines a pint'!! Still makes me chuckle!
I was walking back from lunchtime leafleting yesterday with a colleague and a chap lept out of a shop shouted her and hugged her he told her how well he was doing apologised for hugging her told her he now had a mental health diagnosis hugged her again and told her how brilliant she was.... she could remember him all of his issues and last supervised him over a decade ago. That is what it should be like no instant cures respect for others valuing people encouraging self efficacy ....and advising assisting and befriending them
I like it when my ex-offenders (not all of them!) call me out of the blue asking for advice. Feels good that they still remember me and moreso, have faith that I can help them, no matter how big or small their problem is. References for housing, where to seek housing, advice re spent convictions, etc.
Being sent a wedding invite from a prolific self harmer who was on probation all her adult life (she was in her 40's) and her telling me she hadn't offended or self harmed for 7 years
Working with DRR's for all of my time in probation - so many great memories - someone I worked with 7 years ago is now my colleague; getting a gold medal for our show garden; someone trusting me enough to tell me they had been abused; people moving on and people who still call me (just had an invite to a wedding) and of course my colleagues who are my family and a bloody force to be reckoned with so, so many great memories
A young man telling me, the receptionist, that it was great to be told he could do something, and to have people believe in his ability to actually do it. A few weeks later he'd got his first ever job, then he got accommodation, then he proposed and his girlfriend said yes. He turned his life around properly because we said he could do it. I backed the PO up when she said it to him in front of me. By the time he finished his order he was a dad with a very respectable shot at being a great one!
I think one if the things I am most proud of is the working relationships I have built with some offenders. Being able to do the job, be supportive but tough when needed but still being respected and being able to 'get along' with them. One particular lad who I started working with on EPP at 18 and put him in an AP hated me with a passion. Now, 5 years on as I hand him over to NPS he is talking about his childhood when he never would before and stated I am one of the 3 people in his life he trusts.
News comes in that this blog continues to reach some surprising parts. Partly as a result of a chance encounter at the Bill McWilliams lecture last June, the blog has been referenced in an academic online book review of Wendy Fitzgibbon's ‘Probation and Social Work on Trial: Violent Offenders and Child Abusers’. The full review can be found here.
In drawing the book to a close, Fitzgibbon comments on the signs she had nevertheless noted on the part of practitioners to challenge the ‘one-dimensional orientation to risk management,’ foreseeing a political clash in this respect. However, resistance has been relatively muted, and the Government’s plans continue in a seemingly unstoppable way. For probation the Transforming Rehabilitation ‘omnishambles’ moves on apace (Brown 2013), while media criticisms of social services - ‘And still they die: up to 110 since Baby P’ (Arbuthnott 2013) - generate still more moral panic. In this respect, Fitzgibbon’s book is an important, timely and thought-provoking account.
Arbuthnott, G. (2013). ‘And Still They Die: Up to 110 Since Baby P’, The Sunday Times, News Section, Page 18, published on 27th October, 2013.
Brown, Jim (2013). On Probation blog, last accessed at http://probationmatters.blogspot.co.uk/ on 25th November, 2013.
Ministry of Justice (2013). Transforming Rehabilitation last accessed at http://www.justice.gov.uk/transforming-rehabilitation on 25th November, 2013.
Jill Annison, Associate Professor (Senior Lecturer), Plymouth University.
Amazingly I've been contacted by a reader who is the proud owner of the following 'screenshot' as proof of being the millionth visitor on Saturday. At some point a bottle of something nice will be heading to them in 'Dreary Town' - well done!
Finally, I've been sent the following cartoon in response to some reminiscing on here about the 'good old days'.
"It could have been done this morning but in fact was drawn circa 1996 by a former colleague who died just two years later. He drew it as the first computers started to arrive at the office. I thought at the time that he was being too pessimistic and things would not become as bad as depicted. But in the years since I have realised then that he was reading the runes much better than me - and life has gone on to imitate art."