Probation Cartoon

The drawing from my first probation office in Hackney, 1975

I requested that I should not start my probation career in Hackney, where I had grown up and had been a volunteer. So, they sent me to the office that covered my childhood home. Kids that I had gone to school with came in, on parole. One who was a little odd at school, was on probation for throwing a tray of food at someone who had annoyed him in a café. More sadly, an old school friend lost his father, who had a heart attack, when being robbed. But I met a fantastic group of colleagues and I learnt so much from them.

My first senior was a brilliant supervisor and I learnt to work at the speed of my clients, to work with them and not to rescue them. In a multi-cultural area, we tried to make life better for unemployed African-Caribbean youth who were being arrested for suss, a victimless crime. We set up a drop-in centre in the basement, a couple of colleagues ran a women’s group, years before this was common. The emphasis was on empowering our clients. It was a brilliant immersion into the world of probation. The level of experience in the two teams was high, including a woman who had joined probation from the old Discharged Prisoners’ Aid Societies. Prison resettlement was seen as important.

I found this cartoon in my office when I joined and have kept it ever since. I have it on my door to my bedroom and it makes me smile every day.