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Founded in 1998, CRJI aspires to build a tolerant, responsive and inclusive community by providing restorative justice services to local areas. 

Restorative work and young people, the values connect

Updated: May 20, 2021

Working Restoratively with Young People

Hi! My name is Caoimhe, I am a project worker here in CRJI. I started working for CRJI in January 2020 but had volunteered with them for 2 years prior to securing a job role. I got involved with CRJI while studying Criminology and Criminal Justice in Ulster University. When I started volunteering with CRJI, I knew this was the place I wanted to work, I was amazed at the type of work they were doing and on the scale they were doing it. It became clear from the start that all the staff really cared about every client that came through the door and worked extremely hard to support these clients and I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of.

Before working with CRJI, I worked with individuals who were dealing with homelessness, mental health and addiction issues. When I saw the post being advertised for the Aspire Project within CRJI, I knew I could use my previous experience to help and support young men within my local community.

The Aspire Project within CRJI aims to support vulnerable young men aged 16-30, it provides a variety of support, including restorative work, practical, emotional and employability support. In previous cases I have worked with clients working on issues around addiction, housing, mental health, community issues and employment/training.

To give you a better idea of how Aspire can help, I have provided details of a case below but to protect clients’ anonymity I haven’t shared any identifying details and have changed his name.


I worked with a young man, we will call him Marcus, in relation to addressing his issues with substance misuse. The client had been dealing with substance misuse for around 8 years, at 22 years old Marcus managed to get himself to a place where he was no longer using- through a lot of hard work and sheer determination.

Marcus set goals to turn his life around, but he struggled to deal with the impact his actions had on others, this in turn was negatively affecting his mental health. Whilst I worked closely with Marcus to explore his substance misuse, for example looking at patterns in his behaviour and what he felt had led to him becoming dependent on certain substances so that we could identify potential risk factors, manage triggers and try to prevent relapse. A huge element of the work was examining how his relationships had been altered due to his actions and drug use and how to take accountability for this and repair these fractures. Marcus participated in family circles and mediation with a focus on fixing things and moving forward, it was a difficult but healing and supportive process.

Marcus said, “we have never sat down and talked about it, we are the kind of family that pretends something isn’t happening or if they’re really mad it’s the whole silent treatment, but that’s the first time I heard my mum speaking about how scared she was for me. I didn’t realise how much stress she was under trying to pay my debts or the arguments it had caused between my relatives… I never knew”

Communication is the key to working restoratively with young people and not everyone feels equipped to have these conversations, so it so important that people are prepared, feel that they can cope and manage feelings and that they are facilitated correctly.

Working with Marcus was an absolute pleasure, it was great to see him rebuilding his confidence and tracking his wins and progress.

If you know someone that you feel may benefit from Aspire then please get in touch or if you would like to learn more about restorative training or working restoratively in your own community please contact us!


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