I am a mentor on the STARS, CIT programme in Lurgan and Drumgask. Over the past year and a half the STARS project along with the Community Safety Engagement Forum have been working hard to establish restorative practices and interventions in both areas.
Although delayed by Covid we officially opened our office in September 2020. And have been establishing a strong presence within the local community. Our main aim is to work on the ground in communities identifying and addressing issues and concerns, finding positive solutions through dialogue and communication.
The STARS programme strives to expand the use of restorative practices and incorporate it into real life, everyday scenarios. In Lurgan and Craigavon restorative practices was a relatively new concept, we spent the first few months building positive relationships and partnerships, as well as knowledge and trust in the practice. Some of the training to date has included OCN level 1 and 2 in Restorative Practices, Skills for Justice diplomas, Mind Skills training, Choices and consequences, Therapeutic Crisis Intervention and Community Resilience Model.
My previous roles have always been community focused and person centred, before CRJI my work was mainly based around the rehabilitation of offenders and as a key worker in addiction and harm reduction services. I began my training and restorative working in the Newry / Armagh CRJI office as a project coordinator back in 2017, and seen first-hand the benefits it can provided to communities and individuals. I have been a restorative advocate ever since.
I heard about the STARS programme through the initial consultation stage over the past few years; and became involved as I believe restorative practices will make a positive contribution to communities, schools, individuals as well as voluntary and statutory bodies in dealing with local issues. I believe it will give the participants an idea of why people commit offences and an alternative solution focused way in dealing with crime.
The work relies on volunteers and the buy in and commitment of the community, which is why training and mentoring restorative advocates through STARS is such an important piece of work. I hope CRJI makes a lasting impact on the area, providing mentees the tools to continue restorative practices long after the STARS programme finishes; giving those participating on the programme the skills to apply this learning. I hope the project empowers communities, developing their confidence in dealing with problems through a collaborative approach.
We hope to build upon the success so far as we entre phase 2 of the projects. We offer an open door policy, if you feel we can help with any issue please contact us in Mount Zion on: