Natalia Atkinson, a probation officer in Cumbria and Lancashire CRC offers some words of support, wisdom and guidance to those about to become probation officers.
Thinking about some amazing people who are going on their own journey to be probation officers…
This journey is hard. You will come face to face with people who want (and who have the means) to kill you.
You will have frank discussions with people who have done grotesque things to babies and children.
You will have to read reams and reams of documents about how people have been hurt physically, emotionally and sexually and you will cry as the words of the victims flash before your eyes.
You will also be faced with your service user sitting before you as they recollect the most horrendous childhood abuse.
You will have very unwell people tell you about their hallucinations as they grip the table in fear of the hit man that doesn’t exist.
People you supervise will die.
Your emotions will conflict and you can range from enormously proud to enormously concerned in a moment.
You have been picked for your values as much as your skills. You have the ability to be the change you want to see in the world.
You will gain power and the trick is that you maintain a level of humility and critical thinking so as not to misuse that.
Now, more than ever, you need to practice self-care and care for your colleagues.
You will change. You will question yourself and others. You will see things through different eyes.
This is your learning journey.
You may lose friends and you may gain friends but this is not the end.
You may develop a dark sense of humour. This is a common coping strategy and one which many of us share as a way to manage the horrors with which we face.
But never forget why we do this in the first place. We want the world to be a better place for everyone.
We do not want people abused and murdered. We do not want people to be ostracised, isolated or harmed.
We want the best possible outcome for everyone. If ever you feel that you have stopped caring, it is time for a break.
Take care. I will rejoice in your accomplishments.
You are the new generation, I am very proud of you, and you will do this!