A typical day for me starts at 7am. After a coffee, I ensure all paperwork from the previous day’s task groups have been scanned into our systems and uploaded to the shared work space. This means our back office (Professional Services Centre) Unpaid Work (UPW) staff can credit the offenders’ hours worked in our area. I then check the daily log UPW sheets for anomalies and ensure that the PSC and the Case Manager are kept informed.
I then discuss the day’s tasks, and any risk information about the offenders expected that day, with our Community Payback supervisors.
I provide information on the number of hours offenders have left to serve and the risks involved. I talk to other staff in our district to ensure all attendees can be worked. This can sometimes mean organising vans to be in the right place at the right time. We make every effort to work all attendees. Once all offenders are out on site with their supervisors, I am on call. If there are any issues, it is my responsibility to deal or assist with these.
I am expected to source new projects by liaising with beneficiaries of Community Payback projects – such as local councils, allotments, charity shops and community led initiatives. I also manage existing external partnerships.
I spend a lot of my time scheduling in daily projects for six supervisors a day during the week, and seven supervisors at the weekend. I need to communicate with each project contact to ensure our groups have access to site and ensure we have correct risk assessments. I need to ensure there is fuel in the vans, all MOTs are up to date, taxed, tools are in working order and the right tools and keys are at the right sites for the jobs lined up for the next working day.
I also produce monthly review reports and ensure the right information is being picked up, and when necessary, actioned. I attend team meetings across our district to ensure communication is maintained – including keeping probation Case Managers in the loop. I am constantly talking to colleagues at the PSC – responding to queries relating to hours or other UPW matters. On a typical day, I receive about 80 emails including placement referrals, queries, requests for new projects and requests for advice.
The things that make me happy during the day is the positive way colleagues approach the job and genuine effort I see to make sure everything works. If someone is struggling, there are always people there to assist. This is not only seen in the office but in feedback from offender exit interviews such as: “community payback gave me the ambition to get a job” or “I’ve learned to respect my community and look after it”. It gives me and colleagues a real buzz that the work we plan, supervise and risk assess make a big difference.
“It gives me and colleagues a real buzz that the work we plan, supervise and risk assess makes a big difference.”
I joined probation when I was 21-year-old after having spent a year and a half travelling across North America. The agency I was temping for told me there was a receptionist role at CGM CRC. My mother had worked there and, as a child, I remember meeting her there after work. So, I thought I would give it a go. At that stage, it was not a career choice.
Over the years, full time positions became available and I was fortunate enough to get them. Between 2004 – 2012 I worked in numerous admin roles. These all gave me a great insight into the backbone of the organisation and the systems it relies upon. Between 2012 – 2016 I was a case manager and task officer within Community Payback.
I have been in my current role since 2016 and have never enjoyed working so much. The work we do as a team makes visible and physical changes for the better in the areas we work in and in offenders and beneficiaries lives.
We make a real difference. We place offenders in placements to match their skill sets, provide them with experience to enhance their CVs and employment training and education courses, and offer volunteering opportunities after their order have been completed. Offenders are given the opportunity to learn to respect the communities they live in, look after them and take pride in the work they did. Several former offenders have even brought their children or partners to show off the work they completed. Some volunteer for placements for months after having completed their orders and gain employment on the back of it. Community Payback offers offenders the chance to experience work life, the rewards it can bring, friendships and positive mentors and feedback. When done correctly, I believe there is no better way to re-engage offenders back into society than Community Payback.
I have worked with my current line manager during a few different roles in varying offices during my time with Probation. My line manager has been a great mentor. He showed complete faith in my abilities when I was working on fixed term contracts in admin and made me permanent. His faith in me and advice offered – mostly positive but when needed critical – has won my loyalty to him as a manager and to probation too. His famous quote “assume nothing” resonates with us as a team. We plan everything. So much so that when things don’t go to plan, we have a plan for that. It may mean we put more hours in – and we work extremely hard – but this allows us to have more control of our work load. We can then tackle life’s little surprises when they arise.
I have been married to Hayley for seven years. We have a two-year-old daughter and a seven-month-old son. They are our world. We also have a cat Harry who was born at 3pm on the day Hayley and I got married. When not in work we spend a lot of time in the garden playing. I enjoy building tents/dens with the kids reliving my childhood and we go to parks. My daughter likes the seaside a lot. I find myself risk assessing the cliffs above us though whenever we go! My hobbies include badminton (I play in two local leagues at least twice a week), supporting Manchester United, going for walks and gardening. I also have an interest in all things to do with wildlife and weather. I’m a member of the Wildlife Trust, Born Free and WWF. I am an active blogger and fundraiser for Tommy’s, the baby charity, after our firstborn didn’t survive.