“What’s going on ‘ere then?”
I’ll tell ya!
It was another surreal day for me on Friday, and who provided it, once again?
Yup! Revolving Doors Agency.
So, on Friday, I was invited up to Birmingham by Sean from Revolving Doors to take part in the West Midlands Police Integrated Offender Management (IOM) Training, looking at how to build lasting relationships between the IOM officer and the person they are working with, at Tally Ho, West Midlands Police Learning and Development Centre. In the shadows of the Edgbaston cricket ground.
But! That only tells a small fraction of the story. My relationship with the police began many, many moons ago. It was not the friendliest of relationships, however, it certainly lasted a lot longer than most of my romantic relationships. Of course, all that has changed now, not that I’m in a romantic relationship with the police these days, it is more a relationship based on a mutual respect, understanding and a will to listen so we can collaborate to find the solutions. Let’s be honest, unless you are a police officer, would you really want to do their job. Then again, I’d not be surprised if there aren’t those currently serving who wish they chose a different career path. I see that a lot in the prison service. Ironically, it usually comes down to their management and support and not because of the people they encounter in the duties of their work.
Sean and I met another member from the Revolving Doors Lived Experience Team (LET) outside Tally Ho. Unfortunately, there was no one tending the front reception, so we had to go around the back. Fortunately, an experience I was more accustomed to, not often I’d enter through the front door of a building belonging to the constabulary.
Walking through the corridors and up to the training room we were attending was a very bizarre experience due to the walls being adorned of photographs of police officers, past and present, staring down at myself and the other LET member. We gave each other a look the other immediately understood and we both cracked a nervous smile. Although, with masks on, it was more the look.
When we walked into the classroom, it immediately fell silent as we made our way to the three chairs up front and centre. I forget how many were in the audience, it was no more than fifteen but felt like hundreds, especially after walking past all the photographs. Into the lion’s den!
What followed was not much different to what I was used to, however, a prepared statement or going no comment would’ve made the whole trip pointless. So, the other LET member and I gave our side of our own story and answered their questions to the best of our knowledge.
And that is what, for me, made it all so surreal, same situation, or remarkably similar, and yet, and YET! The outcome left me feeling empowered and not locked up for however long.
I must give my appreciation to everyone we met that day; I also must admit I was concerned at how my LET colleague, and I, ‘us’ would be received by ‘them’ and I am more than pleased to admit my concern was unnecessary. We were given respect for sharing our stories and listened to regarding what we felt were some of the solutions. A lot of notes were being taken as we spoke.
I cannot, personally, thank the West Midlands Police enough for such an incredible day and for making me feel, and my experience, valued.