Building Restorative communities will happen through small steps coming together
The Future We Create
When we reference ‘restorative practice’ it is often associated with the youth justice system, generally people are familiar with such terms as; youth conferencingand reparation workor community service. However, it is not always clear how restorative practices translates to other environments, yet CRJI would argue the relevance of restorative practice in our everyday life. We see the benefit in schools, in family life, in youth clubs, in housing, in the workplace and so forth.
Why? Because at the very heart of restorative practices is relationships,in a sense it determines the framework in how we interact with others, as the core values underpinning restorative interventions are respect, fairness, equality, safety, honesty, inclusivity, collaboration, responsibility, accountability, voluntary participation, etc.
Many readers or regular website visitors will have heard me bang on about the STARS project, (Striving Towards A Restorative Society), which was launched earlier this year and which is raising awareness of restorative justice and making training accessible to residents, community and statutory workers across the 8 CIT areas. However all of CRJI’s work is developed from a restorative ethos, for example the MACS (Mediation and Community Support) which seeks to resolve neighbourhood disputes and housing issues or the Traveller Project which seeks to address issues affecting the Traveller community and support the relationship between Travellers as well as with the settled community, both consistently use restorative interventions.
STARS participants are supported by experienced mentors who work within CRJI and are trained restorative practitioners, this provides a valuable experiential learning opportunity for learners to see how restorative practice works in real life scenarios and how it is applicable outside of a justice setting.
A recent example of this: CRJI’s family support worker; Jackie Devenney, had noticed an apparent increase in familial conflict since April, an unsurprisingly trend given the pressures of Covid-19. Whilst CRJI put in place practical help such as: food parcels, hygiene packs, mindfulness packages, homework and schooling resources thanks to funding from Radius, Family Support Hubs, etc. Families still needed support in finding effective ways to manage conflict and means to deal with the uncertainty they were facing.
CRJI endeavour to do this creatively, for example, using role play, strength cards, mediating etc. Jackie also set about arranging a family support day out at SkyTrek, supported by three STARS participants who helped to design some of the activities which centred around:
-Healthy relationship building and building trust
-Effective and respectful communication
-Handling difficult scenarios and teamworking
-Using restorative language
-Developing emotional literacy, self-care and recognising feelings
-Using a strength-based approach
-Modelling appropriate behaviour and being accountable
The day was a huge success, CRJI’s twitter feed shows photos of families who got stuck into zip lining, the high ropes course and tackling all kinds of obstacles!
It was a positive outing and the feedback reflected this, with families reporting that it was an “great experience and made me a lot more conscious of how I act and behave and how the kids copy and respond to this… made me aware how I talk and ways I can avoid things escalating”.
STARS participant commented “I loved having the opportunity to help plan this, it is so valuable as it can literally shape how kids will respond to conflict in the future and that in itself is so powerful.”