Joe may appear an unlikely public hero, but every day he is working to make our communities safer places to live in. He deals in justice, supervision and the hope of rehabilitation.
Now Joe is happy to share his struggles - both personal and professional - because he feels confident in what the future might bring after engaging with mental health support service Able Futures.
Joe works for the National Probation Service and has to manage some very high risk and complex individuals, many leaving prison on a post-custody licence. This legal requirement means that the released prisoners must attend for supervision to reduce the likelihood that they will commit further crimes.
“The situations that I am regularly dealing with can become very stressful,” says Joe. “I wanted to go into this field of work because I believe in the capacity of people to change if they are given the right supervision, support and incentives.
“However, no probation worker can remain immune forever from the impact of such a challenging environment. My caseload eventually meant that I needed support and some guidance on how I could cope better with my levels of anxiety and subsequent stress.”
A work colleague recommend that Joe could get some advice and support from Able Futures, which is funded by the Department for Work and Pensions to deliver the Access to Work Mental Health Support Service. He was able to access support at no charge and to arrange regular appointments with a vocational rehabilitation consultant.
“My vocational rehabilitation consultant was Amelia Montague-Rendall and it was a great relief to finally talk to someone in an honest and open way,” adds Joe. “We met outside work in a coffee shop sometimes. Although I knew I was giving 100% to my job, I had started to think that my efforts were not good enough.
“Amelia was really able to help and sign-post me to other agencies for further support. Through my engagement with Able Futures, I felt confident enough to say to my manager that I was really struggling. I would often sit in front of my service users and remind them of the importance of self-care and their wellbeing, but I wasn’t taking my own advice.
“I received support from Able Futures for seven months and I started to believe again in my own resilience. I know I’m doing my best and the work that we are undertaking can make a real difference to people’s lives.”
Part of the advice that Joe received was to consider how to improve his social life, strengthen the connections with friends and not obsess about work when he had left the office.
“I have started writing in both factual and creative genres,” he says. “In fact I have already written a first chapter and received some interest from a publisher.”
Joe has recently gone through an assessment process in regard to his criminal justice work and the feedback from the senior probation officer was that he performs at an “outstanding” level.
“I found their verdict very reassuring,” he commented. “I now have the improved confidence to take on more leadership roles. I have been given the responsibility of supporting a group of colleagues in their work and I am looking at ways to invite professional speakers to visit and offer further expert advice and insights.”