"We can all benefit enormously from learning to walk a mile in someone else's shoes. A little bit of role reversal is no bad thing, particularly when it comes to trying to understand our fellow creatures a bit better than we did before.
I recall my twenty five years experience as a Probation Officer serving in West Yorkshire. Part of my job involved regularly visiting inmates inside prison, trying to understand their attitudes and personal circumstances and in particular, what had brought them to a life of crime and how could I help them change their ways for the better.
Like the proverbial addict to any form of behaviour, I quickly learned that change would only come about at a time in their lives when they were ready to change and not a moment sooner. When eventually most of them did change for the better, it warmed one's heart like no fire in the cold of winter could ever do; especially when you knew that you had helped that life change in some small measure to come about.
For over twenty years I examined and evaluated the behaviour patterns of different offending types as I developed and extended my 'Anger Management' programmes throughout society. Whatever the nature of their crime or offending pattern, at the root of their problem behaviour which had brought them into conflict with the law and society in general, often lay their overall belief that they felt unloved, undervalued and impotent to effect positive change around themselves.
While over the years I was to achieve many accolades in my field of work, I was never left in the slightest doubt as to the way I best helped. I accepted more than anything else that I had become a 'Hope Giver' who constantly sought to fill up their leaking buckets at a faster rate than their bucket of hope emptied. I quickly realised that without 'hope' we are all lost and that only through the ability and faith to see a more positive future can we each be saved and become happier, healthier and more hopeful individuals. From that moment on, the nature of my work with people dramatically changed and instead of focussing on 'What they had done to find themselves behind bars' I began to think of more effective ways of getting them to 'look in' at themselves and the nature of their own responses to stressful situations instead of 'look out' at the actions of others whom they often blamed for their imprisonment.
By teaching my clients how to become happier, healthier and more hopeful in their lives I was better able to assist in helping to change many of their lives as the overwhelming majority of all offenders I worked with wanted to change, but either didn't know 'how to change' or didn't have the support structures and wherewithall around them to do so.
I inform you of these facts in my 'Thought for today', because the very principles behind their efficacy helped to put me on the straight and narrow path also after a number of rebellious years which might easily have placed me at the other side of the bars, had I been caught in my transgressions." William Forde: January 11th, 2015.