One Friday afternoon Sheldon was threatened with a knife in an attempted robbery. Just over a year later he met the young person responsible in an online Restorative Justice conference.
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Why me? would like to thank Barnet Youth Offending Service (YOS) for their support to publish Sheldon’s story.
At about 4.00 p.m. on a Friday afternoon Sheldon was on his phone walking through a local park when he was approached from behind and threatened with a knife. The attacker was frightened off but was later caught. The young person responsible was sentenced to an 11 month referral order.
When the Youth Offending Service contacted Sheldon, he was keen to meet the young person in a restorative conference. It was important for Sheldon to also meet with one of the young person’s parents to see how they had been affected by what happened.
Unfortunately, due to Covid, it was not possible to hold a face to face meeting but following conversations with Sheldon and the young person they agreed to go ahead with an online conference on Microsoft Teams. It was also the first time that Barnet YOS had conducted a restorative conference online.
Restorative conferences can take place face to face or online. The preparation will be the same for both processes although there will be additional measures taken to ensure that everyone is safe to take part in the conference online. For example, the facilitators will check to make sure that the conference is not recorded, decide what happens if the technology fails and what will happen if a time out is needed.
Sheldon described the meeting as ‘an incredible experience’ and said ‘I think we got more out of meeting online than face to face. I thought about how the meeting would have worked face to face and I did think about not going ahead with the meeting because of the time between the offence and the conference. I was glad that I pushed myself to do it.’
‘The conference gave me the opportunity to ask questions and understand what the young person was going through. I feel that the time between when it happened and the meeting was not wasted. It gave us both the opportunity to confront properly what happened. Whilst I am still wary of walking through the park, the conference has given me closure. Restorative Justice has the potential of saving lives.’
The young person has also talked about the positive impact of the meeting: ‘It needed to happen. I see life differently now. It was good for me to see what I did and to know that people cared about me. I feel 100% better about myself. I needed to change and try to better myself.’
Sheldon, the young person and his mum wanted to stay in touch after the conference and the YOS has supported them in exchanging contact details.