Get Over YourselfI'm currently on sick leave due to work-related issues. As I write this I'm on a brief visit to family, exchanging seasonal gifts & explaining my predicament. They have no idea about probation-related issues, they are generally Tory friendly because it suits their business-oriented lifestyle. The consensus is that I'm "too sensitive", "too involved" & "ought to get a life"; "get over yourself & get a proper job." They don't want to hear.
The family I'm visiting live in a busy city where they have to triple lock every door & window, have two alarm systems & their children cannot leave the house without a known adult accompanying them. They live in a middle class bubble, inside comfortable homes, their own air conditioned offices (directors of businesses) & large cars with tinted windows. Their food shop is ordered online & delivered. They eat out, but usually with friends at expensive restaurants where they can drive or go via taxi - or they go to friends' homes when caterers are often employed to cook, serve, clear up then clear off. Their children go to carefully selected academies, driven there & back or taken via bespoke arrangement.
They are not unusual. They are comfortable but not especially wealthy. I suspect they represent a significant swathe of 'Middle England' and they were very excited about the changes to stamp duty because within hours of the announcement they were already planning how much they would save if they buy a more expensive house (???).
Why am I bothering to write about my family like this? Not because I dislike them - they frustrate me but I love them dearly. It's because I think, as involved in probation as we are, we have to put ourselves, our professional roles and our work into some context others can make sense of. Our working week is spent immersed in crisis management, in emotional turmoil (our own as well as others'), in conflict & under stress. TR has only served to increase both the intensity & the number of stressors. Our view of the world is informed - some might argue 'infected' - by this immersive experience, and I find Jim's blog has helpfully exposed that in a number of ways.
We need to reflect on this, because whilst we are a passionate and committed collection of professionals who are regularly exposed to powerful experiences, we appear to others to be disproportionately incensed by issues which run off others' backs, e.g. Grayling & TR, McDowell, prisoners' rights, etc etc. It seems we are regarded by many as the tiny, irritating, squeaky voice of militant do-gooders, lefties, pinkos. No-one pays us much attention. Grayling has no idea what we do - he's made that clear many times over, not least before the Justice Committee this week - yet he's still Secretary of State & Lord Chancellor. How? Why?
I think that's another area where we're left wanting... we don't understand how someone whose behaviour mirrors that of some of our most difficult clients can get away with it so publicly. We're charged with challenging bullies, we're committed to stopping abuse; yet we're being bullied & abused, we're left incapacitated & frightened & raging, and we run the risk of (as suggested by Joanna's blog) normalising & incorporating this fear & anger into our daily routine... And then we get sick.
I'll be okay. I have a strong support network. I'm angry. I'm distressed, but I'll be okay. As I spend time placing myself, my situation & my profession into a wider context, I get stronger. It doesn't dilute the issues - it just makes it easier to spread the word in a meaningful way.