An account of how I learned to be a helping professional – not an instruction manual, but a prompt for you to explore your own story .
I remember being called back to these feelings when some 20 years later on a management conference with my team of senior probation officers I asked them what people had influenced them in becoming managers. I found that most of the group came into management because they were dissatisfied with the quality of management that they had received. Very few had been drawn in to emulate or take further what they had seen in positive models of management.
This I thought then and think now, was a significant problem for them and those that they managed. Just as I think that without some vision of health and value, we would be a problem to those we are trying to help. A colleague of mine once pointed out that we don’t improve people’s lives through the helping professions by doing things to people, but rather by offering something of ourselves. It is a great advantage therefore if what we can offer is some kind of truly creative vision of what people can be.
This idea is vulnerable to romantic sentimentality, but there have been some moving illustrations of it – Billy Elliott in fiction for example. When I was a new senior manager, I inherited responsibility for a ‘Cultural Centre’ – an arts project funded by the Probation Service, so I had chance to explore this theme again. I will therefore come back to this experience, but whilst I was in the setting out phase of my life, the combination of a search for creativity and a profession that tackles the destructiveness of human kind was a compelling conjunction.