Why me? Annual Conference 2022: Breaking down barriers

Published: Thursday, May 26th, 2022

This is a blog by Communications Officer Keeva Baxter.


On Wednesday 25th of May, we held our first Annual Conference, with a focus on Promoting Equality in Restorative Justice. We heard from a range of speakers who sparked discussions and debates around how we can create more inclusive access to Restorative Justice. As our first face-to-face event since the pandemic, the day was also a fantastic networking opportunity.

Lucy Jaffe and Gillian Slovo

We started the day with an introduction from Director Lucy Jaffé and the Chair of Why me? Board Gillian Slovo who spoke about her experience of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. Gillian shared how the Truth and Reconciliation Commission introduced her to the principles of Restorative Justice and how powerful it can be in giving victims of crime a voice.


Dorett presenting her keynote speech

Our keynote speaker Dorett Jones discussed the role of power in Restorative Justice and how we must challenge our own social power and privilege to create a safe and equal environment for participants. Dorett highlighted the importance of taking a step back and interrupting yourself in order to check the position you are coming from and allowing the voices of others to be heard.  

“Centring equality requires coming up against power, privilege, and control. Do the necessary reparative work, make equity your default, this is continuous work.”

Following the event, Dorett said “it was such a great space and opportunity for people to connect, share and learn about ways to implement and promote equality in Restorative Justice. I was privileged to be part of the day and look forward to the next one!”

Our ambassador Sherrall, who has lived experience of a restorative process following a disability hate crime, shared her story. She spoke about the impact that the restorative conversation had on her life and how she was better able to move on and write a play about her experience.

Panel 1We then heard from our first panel of speakers who were discussing whether there is one Restorative Justice for all. Pete Wallis from Oxfordshire YOS, Kenya Lamb from the Criminal Justice Alliance and Sarah Maitland from Goldsmith’s University shared their views on the barriers faced by people in accessing Restorative Justice, with a particular focus on those who are overrepresented in the Criminal Justice System and people who speak English as an Additional Language.

We held five different breakout room workshops across the day:

  • Improving restorative practice for young people
  • Restorative Justice for people with English as an Additional Language
  • Using Restorative Justice for LGBTQ+ hate crime
  • How Restorative Justice might benefit those with Learning Disabilities and Autism
  • Using Restorative Justice to address harm following violent political acts

Belinda leading the World Cafe

The World Cafe processWhy me? trustee Belinda Hopkins led a World Café session, encouraging delegates to use drawings and mind maps to delve deeper into the themes and ideas raised throughout the day. The session also gave delegates the opportunity to network with people they hadn’t yet spoken to.


Panel 2Our final panel of the day explored how we can improve access to Restorative Justice. Sam Warman from Belong, Ray Booth from Barnet Mencap and Mark Healey from Metro discussed how we can use networking, education, awareness and partnerships to ensure that more people are able to access Restorative Justice. Their contributions sparked further discussion about how we can break down barriers to Restorative Justice in the most efficient way.

Delegates described the event as “insightful”, “eye opening” and “thought provoking”, with 100% saying they would recommend our events to a friend or colleague. Thank you to everyone who attended. The conference was a fantastic day of challenging conversations, creative forward thinking and inspiring debates which will help to create more equal and accessible Restorative Justice.


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