The initimable Sally Plumb sadly has left Safe Ground to bring excellence to the state school system, however here now bringing her own high qualities to the Family Man Coordinator role is Orla Hasson. Orla has been known to us for a little while first coming to our attention as a volunteer. But here we say and official welcome. Below are Orla’s impressions of her first week ex officio:
Day One in the Big Brother… emmm… I mean on the Safe Ground team… Well, to state the truth it isn’t quite. Back in November of last year I landed in London, after a few years living in my home town in Northern Ireland, and almost immediately I came knocking on Safe Ground’s door. A few months before I’d heard a Woman’s Hour special on Safe Ground being broadcast on BBC Radio Four. Hearing the interview with a previous participant really drew me to this organisation as one engaging in real personal development and best practice in arts in prisons. I was keen to collaborate in any way I could and was invited to volunteer in January of this year. Although I haven’t been the most regular volunteer I have been in and out of the office since then, helping out in any way I could.
So, walking into work yesterday morning wasn’t so daunting… I’ve already been made feel part of the team. But, it was still Day One. So I was thinking about all the questions I have for the role and which order to fire them out in, when Eli, our Programmes Director, sat me down and gave me my schedule for the next few weeks. Including lots and lots and lots of reading… accompanied by lots and lots of tea made by my lovely (new) bosses, Eli and Charlie.
Eli’s induction has been calm and detailed and accompanied by the reading, I’m feeling like the information is beginning to settle in. Today I’ve really enjoyed re-visiting the history of Safe Ground, and feel deeply inspired by the tale of two women who bravely and whole-heartedly began working in prisons several years ago. It seems that the success and growth of this organisation is down to a team of people who have continued to listen whole-heartedly to, and build on the needs of those who the work really serves, prisoners, their families, and prison staff.
Obinna’s giving me his induction tomorrow. I hope he brings tea…
Today I had more time to read my very well laid out Network manual, while Eli also got me up-to-date on some of the history of the prisons delivering Family Man. I’m really looking forward now to making contact with those people out there who are delivering and developing the programme on the ground. So far the course is just a few big folders to me, and I know that when I get out and meet people I’m going to learn pretty quickly from their experiences. I’ve started to read some of the evaluations that have been done and it’s all helping to build up a much bigger picture of all this than I had.
Obinna turned up for the induction as promised, but no tea… I took him for a juice instead. The induction was great and I feel all caught up on policies and office procedures, and we even spent a few minutes brainstorming fund raising ideas on our way back! That’s pretty efficient.
Note to self: Obinna doesn’t do tea. But he likes muffins.
I’m getting better at timing my travel to work now. A swift 20 minute cycle across the Common gets me here in good time. An enviable commute for anyone, but especially by London standards, I know!
I started off today re-reading some of the notes I’ve been making, as I did a lot of new reading last night, and just when the brain was caving in, Charlie came to rescue me for an induction with her (plus tea). Great! Our Chief Exec did a swift and clear overview of the history of the organisation, the funding strategies and general organisational direction, including my own role and responsibilities for my time here. She even squeezed in a quick 500-year social history lesson about the connection between voluntary and statutory support, in about five minutes! Impressive, and definitely interesting.
After that I got back into reading policies and familiarising myself with the network. I should be ready for some intros tomorrow. Looking forward to that.
Holly and Adam have been off on leave this week, and while I am really looking forward to seeing them next week, I’m also really appreciative of the quiet calm in the office this week. I am doing a lot of reading and catching up and so having less people around is helping me to focus, and in fact create lists of questions for those two on their return!
I embarked on a few phone intros today, after what was an encouraging, lively conversation with Kevin Kenealy at HMP Altcourse. They’re beginning their delivery of both FM and FI in the near future, and in contact with HMP Parc, so I’m looking forward to accompanying them on our parallel journeys, and to learning all that we can in the process. Thanks to Eli’s great update sheet I do believe I’m getting my head around the network…
In the meantime,… DfE, OLASS, SFA, SLA’s, DCLG’s, NOMS,… Home?
That first week in a new job you normally dread is over, and it has been neither dreaded nor dreadful. A few documents more and a few phone conversations and I feel like the skeleton of Safe Ground I was so familiar with has become more fleshed out, and I’m beginning to see a body of work that looks pretty exciting, challenging and intriguing! So much more to know and that can only come with getting out there to meet the network, to learn from you all and from my own venturing into the world of Family Man.
The weekend now and the sun is shining this Friday evening.
Roll on Week Two!