While most of us relax at the weekend from the weekly grind, probation officer Karen Lord volunteers on the Isle of Wight working to dissuade people from ending their lives by suicide.
The mum-of-one, who has also worked for the police and at HMP Isle of Wight, now works for the Hampshire & Isle of Wight Community Rehabilitation Company (CRC).
Karen first heard of the Suicide Prevention & Intervention Isle of Wight charity via a friend and knew that her skillset equipped her for helping people in acute distress. The charity also raises awareness about mental health, suicide and self-harm.
She now volunteers for shifts during the week and at the weekends with the charity and undertakes community engagement work across the island – including at the Culver and Blackgang cliffs.
Karen said: “I recently put on a harness a spoke with a person for two-hours who had climbed over the fence and was contemplating ending their life.
“Seeing someone in crisis is really tough, but I know that through my training and the experiences I’ve had with probation, police and the prison service I am ideally equipped to help.
“Throughout my career I’ve enjoyed engaging with people and probation allows me to do that in a way which can support people to make positive changes to their lives.
“There is a lot of crossover between my volunteer role and my job. I am definitely more understanding now of the mental pressures which our CRC’s service users may have.”
The charity includes a number of team members who patrol on a rota and the team is on call around the clock.
Karen said: “We deal with a number of people in crisis, they all have their different issues as to what has brought them to the time of difficulty.
“We work with each person in an understanding and non-judgemental way. It is very much a team effort and we all play a part in helping people stay safe and supporting them in their time of need.
“It is a tremendously rewarding job and one I feel honoured to do.”
Karen joined probation in 2019 and works with offenders on the Isle of Wight.
Karen said: “Because I’ve worked on several sides of the criminal justice system I can speak from experience when I meet my service users and I can tell them – especially the younger ones – exactly what prison is like and reinforce the fact that they most definitely don’t want to end up there.”
Karen has also undergone specialist mental health, safeguarding training, safe working at height. The training is continual and assessments are carried out regularly in order to maintain the correct procedures.
She said: “I think agencies were struggling to cope with the level of demand for mental health services before the pandemic occurred, now the services simply cannot cope with the demand.
“Being able to help – both through my job and my charitable role – is my way of giving back to society for the support I’ve received throughout my life.”
For more details about the charity, please click.