Striving To Achieve a Restorative Society and Striving Towards Best Restorative Practice
It has been a busy year to date for CRJI and we are only 7 months in! We’ve been establishing ourselves in other locations, supporting the local community Covid-19 response, we’ve launched a number of innovative restorative projects, welcomed new staff on board, our latest website went live and we’ve been continuing to provide restorative interventions in the community to address people under-threat, anti-community behaviour, neighbour disputes and community conflict.
Restorative justice is a hot topic at the minute, it’s been receiving media attention and with the DOJ consultation into the Adult Restorative Justice Strategy, and restorative practice has been pushed to the forefront.
‘The STARS project’, (Striving To Achieve a Restorative Society), aims to raise awareness and understanding of RJ/ RP through access to training
and mentoring services. It is a unique programme that is being shaped by residents, community and statutory workers in each of the areas. Its flexibility allows us to meet needs at a local level and support the implementation of training, workshops and interventions that are bespoke within the community. We are excited about upcoming work which will look at restorative schools, responding restoratively to mental health and addiction & relationship building with emergency services (to mention just a few!)
The project has been receiving positive feedback, despite a slight change in our delivery plans, whereby due to the recent health pandemic we made alterations to our training, from being direct in person to online delivery. Despite this, participants have reported enjoying the course so far, as well as a better understanding of restorative practices, a shift in their perceptions, increased support for restorative practices, a greater motivation to play a positive role in community peace building and developing healthier communities in general.
This project is ambitious but will be a gamechanger in rolling out restorative practices throughout the North of Ireland, with a focus on the communities in transitions areas. Via STARS we hope to expand restorative responses and we are encouraging everyone to play a part in this, we will keep you all up to date on how this will take shape via our twitter page and website.
The STARS has been a refreshing project for staff as well, rarely do we get time to stop and reflect on our work, however mentors and trainers take part in bi-monthly mentoring support sessions, which provide an opportunity for group supervision, shared learning and to reflect on best practice. We complete these jointly with our delivery partners in Northern Ireland Alternatives. We envision that these sessions will be a valuable resource to STARS staff as it helps us to continue building a relationship between staff in different organisations, in which they can enter into professional conversations with an openness, mutual respect and trust. The reflections arising from the sessions will help inform the effectiveness of STARS and aid the monitoring and evaluation process… so striving to achieve a restorative society and towards best practice are truly hand in hand.