Sarah Abbott

Programme Director for the Framingham Jail Diversion Program in Massachusetts in the USA, Sarah Abbott, graduated with BA (Hons) Community Studies from Bradford & Ilkley Community College in 1992.

Sarah AbbottSarah studied on the BA (Hons) Community Studies course, concentrating on youth work, from 1988 to 1992.

“My time at the Ilkley Campus was spent in classes and at the Students’ Union, punctuated by trips to the pubs downtown and long walks in the hills surrounding the campus. I initially lived on campus and then moved to Bradford in year 2 in search of the perfect curry...I found it and much more. Bradford was a vibrant and intriguing city which had a great deal to offer a young student.

After my 4 year degree I moved to America in search of adventure and certainly found that too! I have remained mostly in the Boston area of Massachusetts and particularly enjoy the long hot summers which I don’t recall experiencing much of in the North of England. Since I have lived in the US, I went on to get a Masters degree in Criminal Justice and am in the process of completing a PhD in Law, Policy and Society. I am in the dissertation phase which I hope to complete within the next year. It’s been hard going to school and working full time but I look forward to people having to refer to me as Doctor!

Professionally, I have remained a social worker and have a license to practice Social Work in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. I have served in several positions since my arrival in the US in 1992. I initially worked for the Bridge of Central MA who brought me over here through the National Youth Work Exchange programme. I was subsequently trained as Rape Crisis Counsellor at the Rape Crisis Centre in Worcester MA and then served as the Program Manager of an Adolescent Assessment Unit for the Bridge of Central MA for 3 years, before I joined the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for 4 years as an Investigator at the Office of Child Care Services.

I have finally found my niche working in a police department diverting mentally ill folks away from arrest for non-violent offences and into treatment. I am now the director and a clinical responder for the Framingham Jail Diversion Program. We are in our 6th year of operation and are a nationally recognized model in policing practice. My office is in the Police Department and I ride along with police officers to calls in the community where individuals have committed low level misdemeanor offences and can be diverted into treatment and away from arrest. It has been a fantastic opportunity and is well received by the officers with whom I work. I love my job.

I am grateful for the academic and social opportunities I was afforded through the Bradford & Ilkley Community College degree and am still close to a couple of the people I went to College with all those years ago. I am thrilled to have been asked to participate in the 175th Anniversary Celebration, may there be many more years of learning and thriving to come.”

Photograph supplied by Sarah Abbott