Coat stand

Many will be familiar with the idea that probation officers are required to ‘wear many hats’ in their work with individuals: holding a caseload, working in court, attending hearings, or as McNeill defines it: as Educator, Counsellor, or Advocate. My own years as a practitioner, however, were not defined by hats but instead by the jackets we wore on our many journeys. The suit jackets hanging on the coat stand in the corner of the tiny magistrate’s court probation office. The hooks on the back of the office loo door boasting long-abandoned jackets of probation officer past, jackets that could occasionally be brought back into service with an unexpected call from court. The cosy cardigan or worn leather jacket belonging to the backs of office chairs, well-travelled thrown across the back seat of cars to and from home visits and regular trips to prison. The ‘journeys’ of those we work with in the justice system are rarely embarked upon willingly, but for practitioners, these memories of many jackets take me through my own journey, of providing the metaphorical jacket to individuals in my care, offering a chat, a smile, support, and guidance to those in need of them.

Fiona Campbell