REAL WORK: NINE TO FIVE

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Describe what you do

I represent psychiatric patients who wish to appeal against being held in hospital against their will. The Mental Health Act gives psychiatrists and social workers joint powers to detain a person they believe to be mentally ill in hospital for their own or other people's safety. My job is to put the case for a patient, however bizarre it may appear to an outsider.

How does your day start?

I wake up naturally about 6am. At 7am my 12-year-old son Ben wakes himself up. Alex, who is 14, has to be asked a few times. I make breakfast and the packed lunches. I'm not very good with breakfast: it depends how harassed I am. But I have to have a cup of tea in the mornings.

What do you wear?

I always wear trousers. It seems to be more appropriate. I can't explain why. On tribunal days I wear a trouser suit, either navy blue or brown - black is too unfriendly.

What's your journey like?

I drive wherever I'm needed. I go to clients - they don't come to me. I drove about 30,000 miles last year. I must have music in the car, like George Michael, and I've just got a Duran Duran tape which is brilliant for singing with.

What are psychiatric hospitals like?

Surprisingly dull places. That's not to say they are unfriendly because they're not. Many of the patients crowd into a smoking room and there doesn't seem much for them to do.

What do you do for lunch?

Grab a sandwich from a garage and keep driving.

What stresses you out most at work?

I never feel I have enough time to do all the paperwork, and for preparation with clients. I always feel I could put more time into everything.

What are the perks?

The lack of a routine is a perk. I always hated commuting and being in the same place at the same time.

What are your hours?

The job has grown. When I started it was to provide part-time casual support; now I work full time with my own case load.

How much holiday do you take?

I get four weeks a year.We usually take a package trip; last year we went to Ibiza.

What do you do when you stop work?

I find decorating very therapeutic. I like creating different atmospheres. I've always done it. I like quiet things; we live near the sea so I like going for walks by it and in the countryside with my partner John. I'm also always on call as my sons' taxi.

What's the first thing you do when you get home?

Get changed into something comfortable, then cook tea. I used to like cooking and even entertained, but there is no longer any time so it's utilitarian.

How do you feel on a Sunday night?

It really depends on what's happening on a Monday.

PETER CROSS

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