Monday, 15 February 2016

So, what I have been doing?

I can hardly believe its been so long since I last blogged here; it's even longer on my cycling blog.  Plenty has happened by way of distraction.  Perhaps, it could be argued, having a little rest from something is a good thing: an opportunity to be revitalised, re-energised and to reflect on the general direction.


Took this when leaving the office a few days ago;
it sums up my optimistic view of work!
My full time work has seen an incredible change and from previous posts you will have seen this brewing.  After 23 years I have now left the criminal justice system. Through the dreadful reforms I have found myself on first name terms with my MP through my letters objecting to what has happened.  I wrestled with the reforms and restructure for months, survived the restructure and then accepted another job in my local authority for a whole range of reasons.  I understand my departure surprised a few people who questioned if I was doing the right thing, shocked one or two and possibly delighted one or two others.  I'm pleased I made the jump, although I have had some reservations:

  • I have left behind some lovely colleagues who I really like and miss a great deal (others, sadly, had already gone)
  • I really believed in the importance of the work, many agencies working together, getting the community involved, all for the greater good within the concept of public service which should be retained largely in the public sector.  
  • Whitehall is too powerful.  Ken Clarke had the right idea when he was Secretary of Justice and I came to respect him a great deal.  He knew reforms were necessary and took a measured approach to test out new concepts.  Alas that was all cut short when a Cabinet reshuffle took place and Grayling was shuffled in (there were always tensions between No. 10 and Petty France).  That was the start of the rot which finished off the Probation Service.
Nowadays I can simply move on from these reservations.  As I get to know more people within the Council, I see there is considerable scope for doing some great work there together.  The work is worthwhile; I really do like working and serving my own local community; this adds an important dimension for me.

In my new role I'm busy maintaining  and applying my skills and doing my best to apply them to a new area of work. To be honest, I'm quite enjoying it.  Although I know I've gone from being a big fish in a small pond to becoming a tiny fish in a huge lake, I am optimistic and positive about the future.  Much for me to learn!

Bringing the whole area of work into focus, in terms of healthy living and so on, it really has reminded me how vulnerable many of us can be to the negative pressures on work and why making a change can be a healthy thing to do.  It is so easy to get sucked into a rut.  Worse still it can be easy-to-get-drawn-into roles which become increasingly specialist it becomes harder and harder to even contemplate doing anything else.  Quite often colleagues asked me whether I'd ever want to go back to the front line, to practice again.  The scary thing was knowing I couldn't, I wouldn't be competent or be able to handle the IT system of assessments, sentence planning and so on - I wouldn't even recruit myself!  Things had moved on in the 13 years of management far too much to ever consider going back.

And another reason!
Yes, a further reason was about wanting to take a leap into the unknown.  Let me explain.  While I had done some research on what my new job would be like and I regarded the recruitment process as a two-way process, there were still some unknowns.  What would my colleagues be like?  What is the level of work like?  Why did my predecessor leave?  Will I truly enjoy the work?

Naturally there is a risk to this but, on balance, it's sometimes worth taking.  I didn't want to get totally stuck in a rut at this stage of my career.  If I left it much longer, would anyone ever take me on?  I simply had to do this while I still could.

Personal loss
One of the reasons why I haven't blogged much, cycled or been running very much is that I unexpectedly lost my father.  Aged 88 he died on New Year's Eve, completely out of the blue as he wasn't ill.  As a family we have had to make adjustments as we took this in.

We have been touched by the incredible support, love and prayerful encouragement from friends, family and acquaintances.