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15th February 2016

The service user relationship

by Nadine Roberts, Bolton probation case manager

THE relationship between the probation case manager and the offender can be the core condition for changing the behaviour and social conditions associated with re-offending.

The case manager needs to build trust with the service user and show genuine interest and concern to engage and facilitate change.

I believe that the key elements that foster engagement are being: warm; empathic; respectful and non-judgemental. What outweighs these though is to listen.

I have a caseload of 93 service users ranging from those that are currently in custody, in the community on licence, or in the community on community orders. All the service users have different backgrounds and different circumstances, which is what makes my job of finding out what will work with them in supervision so interesting.

One of my recent successes is Faiyez who has been on licence and therefore supervision following release from prison three-years-ago.

He was sentenced to six years in custody at Bolton Crown Court for possessing cannabis and cocaine with intent to supply.

Faiyaz had turned to dealing drugs because he had got into serious debt.

Before beginning his sentence, Faiyaz became a dad. Social services began the process to take his son into care while Faiyaz was serving his sentence.

Faiyaz had already wracked up half-a-dozen sentences for driving offences and minor drug issues, but this was his first long stay behind bars. While inside he completed a range of courses such as NVQs in business studies and I.T. and also passed English and maths qualifications.

I recognised that Faiyaz had undergone a profound transformation when I met him. The catalyst was that he wanted custody of his son.

I attended meetings with social services, at the child’s school and at court, and also kept the authorities updated about Faiyaz’s progress.

It is striking how much Faiyaz has matured. He made a choice, he wanted his son in his life, and he dedicated himself to changing so that he could achieve that goal.

It took 10 months for him to win the custody battle. It is to his immense credit that social services no-longer has any input because he has impressed them so much.

Faiyaz successfully completes his licence in August and I am so proud of the journey and transformation he has made.

I have listened and supported him, and more importantly believed he could turn his life around and obtain custody of his son.

This is what makes my job so worthwhile, working with people to effect change and reintegrate them successfully within their communities.