Celebrating one year at Why me?

Published: Friday, May 31st, 2024


This is a blog by our Deputy CEO, Kate Aldous.

 

It’s now been over a year since I started working at Why me? – so a good time to pause and reflect on how it’s going and where we are. 

I have learnt more about Restorative Justice, and seen more evidence of its power to transform the lives of both harmed and harmer. The more I learn, the more I understand the importance of Restorative Justice in a society and world that is increasingly divided – and the more vital I believe the work of Why me? is in increasing awareness and access to this valuable approach. As one practitioner said to me: “I can see the magic of RJ, and I can’t understand why everyone isn’t using it!”

We have had some great achievements in this period:

We published the Good Practice Guide on using Restorative Justice for LGBTQ+ hate crime. It was a struggle to get the case studies included in the report because there is still a lack of awareness about Restorative Justice, and, where people do know about it, a belief that it has to involve a face-to-face meeting. It doesn’t! We need to continue to spread the word about this, because the power of Restorative Justice means it changes hearts and minds. 

By the end of the project, the Metropolitan Police had moved from not using Restorative Justice for LGBTQ+ hate crime, to making referrals – great progress!

We secured national advertising on hundreds of billboards across England, Wales and Scotland during the month of April. Four different designs promoting Restorative Justice appeared on 245 billboards. The campaign was seen an estimated 21 million times and our homepage views increased by over 50%, with a 38% increase in new users. Many thanks to the JCDecaux Community Channel for their support, which increased public awareness and interest in Restorative Justice. The campaign simply would not have been possible without them! 

Congratulations on this great campaign – looks amazing! And of great benefit to all of us working in RJ in the UK. – The Mint House

The <Good Practice Guide for speakers of English as an Additional Language raised interesting issues about cultural and language barriers, which can bring additional challenges to successful Restorative Justice, and offered ideas about how best to overcome these barriers. 

We also secured funding from the National Lottery Community Fund to explore restorative approaches to interfaith conflict. Working in Solihull and Glasgow with partners Faith & Belief Forum and Interfaith Glasgow, this exciting and timely project will promote the use of restorative approaches to address faith-based conflict and hate crime, training up members of the faith community so that they can continue with the work beyond the project’s lifetime. 

We also saw a number of staff changes. Our previous CEO, Lucy Jaffe, moved on after 12 years with Why me?, having led the organisation through the challenges of COVID and the post-pandemic period. Lucy is highly regarded throughout the Restorative Justice community, and she will continue to work in the field and support Why me?. We are delighted to have appointed the very capable and experienced Sara Dowling as our new CEO. Sara is settling in well, and she brings a wealth of knowledge, including experience at RoadPeace, a national charity supporting road crash victims.

Of course, behind the scenes there has been frantic activity, especially on the fundraising front. In all my many, many (!) years of working in the voluntary sector, this is by far the most challenging I’ve ever seen it. This has a disproportionate impact on small organisations, with staff needing to add more fundraising activity to an already over-committed diary.

So, significant achievements, significant challenges, and an ever increasing commitment to Restorative Justice, and using its magic to change the lives of those impacted by crime and conflict.

 

© 2024 Why me? Charity no. 1137123. Company no. 6992709.