Working towards a restorative society – report on Northern Ireland visit

Published: Monday, October 29th, 2018

Why me? and Khulisa recently hosted a two day Conference for Restorative Justice and mediation practitioners, community and youth engagement workers from Northern Ireland. Colleagues from Northern Ireland brought fascinating insights into the role of restorative practice in addressing conflict and as a preventative tool. One participant commented:

“I realise now that different people see the same thing differently and will have different reactions.”

Organised by Khulisa, hosted by Why me? and supported by Restore:London the event focused on four key areas

  • Trauma-informed restorative practice with young people
  • Theories underpinning practice
  • Practicalities of delivering RJ service for adults
  • Specialist RJ cases, policy influencing & campaigning

Khulisa works with young people in schools, prisons and in the community helping them to understand and tackle the root-cause of their violent and anti-social behaviours. By equipping people with the tools to choose alternatives to violence and crime, they provide a way out to help young people transform their lives; enabling them and their communities to truly thrive and flourish.

Lisa Rowles, Director of Innovation & Evidence at Khulisa explained the purpose of the event,

As an organisation that has imported a South African model to the UK, we’re acutely aware of the importance of sharing restorative knowledge and best practice between differing communities. This event was an opportunity for all us to understand each other’s perspectives, in pursuit of helping communities transforms conflict, regardless of location.

Restore:London (R:L) shared with the attendees their experience of delivering high quality Restorative Justice service across all 32 London boroughs. They enable victims to access the service at any stage of the Criminal Justice process, at a time in their life journey that suits them.

At Why me?, the victim’s experience lies at the heart of what we do.

We work with victims, offenders, statutory services, voluntary organisations and Criminal Justice agencies and deliver our own Restorative Justice Service giving the right to everyone who has suffered as a result of crime to have their chance to talk about what happened.

Insights from Northern Irish colleagues into working in complex environments were valuable in and demonstrating the skill and sensitivity needed when addressing the impact of crime within a highly politically charged situation.They found the lessons from the trauma-informed training useful to inform their work with people from across the Northern Ireland divide who are affected by the historical and current conflict in the country. A shared feature of the discussions was the potential for restorative justice to make an impact on the thinking of young people involved with gangs and drugs and all parties saw this as an area of increasing concern.

A final comment from one of the attendees captured the value of the Conference perfectly:

It has been very enlightening to sit and listen to like-minded people working towards a restorative society.

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