Reflections on Restorative Justice Week 2023

Published: Thursday, November 30th, 2023

This is a blog by our Communications and Events Coordinator, Keeva Baxter.


Last week was Restorative Justice Week 2023! We had a fantastic week of networking, sharing ideas, building new connections and sparking challenging discussions. We want to extend a big thank you to everyone who took part, the combined voices of the restorative sector means we can make a much bigger impact, spreading the word about Restorative Justice as widely as possible. 

Throughout #RJWeek we held a variety of events that covered topical issues in the restorative sector. In this blog, I reflect back on the events that Why me? held and what we learned from our speakers and connecting with like-minded people. 

“International RJ Week is a wonderful opportunity to remind ourselves of the power and potential of Restorative Justice. It changes lives by supporting those most affected by crime and conflict to listen to each other and agree how to move forward.” – Lucy Jaffé , Director, Why me?

The power of deep listening

We held an event on deep listening, the part it plays in Restorative Justice and how it can be used to alleviate feelings of shame. Our speaker, Inger Brit Lowater, is a Restorative Justice Facilitator who currently runs Why me?’s RJ service. Previously Inger Brit was a Victim Liaison Officer, and she drew upon this experience to demonstrate the power of deep listening. 

Inger Brit highlighted how difficult it is to just listen, without either thinking of a response or offering a solution. Despite the challenge though, she explained that this reliance solely on listening can be freeing in a restorative setting as it does not rely on your skills or your ability to come up with a solution. 

She shared top tips for effective listening, including being still, avoiding being too expressive and asking open questions. The way we ask questions should not be to satisfy our own curiosity, but rather to help the speaker’s thinking process. 

Remember to ask yourself, are you just listening to respond or are you listening to understand?

Inger Brit also explored the concept of shame, how this differs from guilt and how a restorative space can allow people to sit with their shame, feeling it until it subsides rather than avoiding it. 

If you’re interested in watching the recording of this event, please get in touch. 

How can Restorative Justice support survivors of domestic and sexual violence?

We held a moving event, bringing together three of our Ambassadors who are survivors of domestic or sexual violence to share their stories and help build awareness of how Restorative Justice works in these cases. Teresa, Wendy and Janika all shared their experience and how a restorative process was a key part of their healing. 

Each of them had a very different experience of the restorative process but were united in their view that it should be offered to survivors of domestic and sexual violence and that organisations can cause more harm by not offering it. 

Teresa shared that she initially sought a restorative meeting with her mother, hoping to get her to acknowledge the abuse she experienced as a child. As time went on, it became apparent that a meeting with her mother wouldn’t be suitable. The facilitators supported Teresa through this realisation which was empowering in itself. For the facilitators to see how her mother behaved and understanding that she would never get the acknowledgement she needed, Teresa was able to move on, forming close bonds with family members she hadn’t seen in decades. 

Wendy said that taking part in a face-to-face Restorative Justice meeting with her father allowed her to say everything she was unable to say when she was 14. The process allowed her to have her say and explain the long-lasting impact the abuse had had on her life. Wendy went on to explain that she would recommend Restorative Justice to anyone who had been affected by a crime like she had. 

Janika explained the struggle she faced trying to access Restorative Justice, being refused access by many support organisations she came into contact with who assumed she wanted to get back with her partner. She described the anger she felt when she found out she had a right to be given information about Restorative Justice under the Victims Code, having been denied it so many times. When she was finally able to take part in the process, it was transformative. 

The panel of ambassadors were also joined by Inger Brit, who shared her experience of facilitating these cases, acknowledging the risks involved but also the transformative benefits it can bring. 

Thank you to our panel for their candid sharing of their stories and to our audience for their sensitive engagement and with our speakers. 

In conversation with the Youth Justice Board

Our final event of the week brought Liz Opoku of the Youth Justice Board into conversation with the restorative community. Liz shared the YJB’s upcoming plans around the inclusion of Restorative Justice in their strategy, and explored the impact of the new KPI measuring Restorative Justice provision in Youth Justice Services. 

The audience actively engaged in the conversation, raising queries around consent, how to fill in the responses requested by the YJB, and how to effectively and consistently measure the provision of RJ. One key dilemma is around capturing the restorative interventions provided to young people which are often more abstract than a face-to-face meeting. Thank you very much to Liz for joining us and answering the questions of the audience. Liz is taking the feedback back to her team and will issue further guidance soon. Keep an eye on our newsletter to see how to get involved in future conversations and be the first to hear about additional YJB guidance.

Thank you to everyone who attended our events this Restorative Justice Week, it is fantastic to see an enthusiasm and passion for widening access to Restorative Justice that aligns so closely with our own. 

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