In partnership with Hull Centre for Restorative Practice HULLHARP are now fully restorative.
What is Restorative Practice?
We were first connected to Restorative Practice in December 2010 through Mark Finnis from the Hull centre. We had identified through experience and performance that we needed a different approach to managing perpetual behavioural issues, managing conflict, and developing relationships. We identified as an organisation that whilst we offered support and services to a high standard, we weren’t addressing the behaviours and dynamics of a group of people who often created conflict, were extremely socially disengaged, and excluded, in a positive way. We were punitive, enforced punishment and excluded individuals from services – a culture that used power as a way of managing individuals.
We have changed internal monitoring, recording, reviewing systems, documentation, and processes all around RP principles and ethos.
We trained and educated staff, volunteers, and service users on all areas of Restorative Practice.
We have educated our partners, stakeholders and linked with statutory agencies also using Restorative Practice (Local Police).
We were recently audited by our commissioner Supporting People who identified Restorative Practice as innovative and creative. Here is some direct feedback gained during the validation visit from service users. We retained our ‘grade A’ service standard for the second year running.
“Clients were met and they were confident about the support they received from HULLHARP and in particular the use of Restorative Practice which has significantly enabled and empowered them and allowed them the opportunity to take responsibility for their actions and how it affects others. They confirmed that they see a support worker and have key working sessions where they feel supported to make informed choices and listened to.
“Clients appeared to be very well informed about the remit of the service. They advised they were happy with the levels of support they received both during and out of office hours. They fully understood both their support plans and tenancy agreements and could describe the salient information in both documents. They felt safe in their accommodation and described staff as reliable, honest, polite and respectful. They felt HULLHARP was interested in their opinions and views and offered them meaningful support and involvement and gave them accountability as well as responsibility which would enable them in independent living.”
We are achieving the desired outcomes we set ourselves.
At HULLHARP we aim to work proactively with the residents and staff. We make every effort to create a community atmosphere and encourage residents to work together towards an open, honest and respectful environment to live in.
We do this by having regular circles. The residents living in each project attend a weekly cluster circle. This is an opportunity to air any issues and iron them out before they escalate into problems. The types of things discussed range from sharing the cleaning to inter-cluster disputes. We find that encouraging appropriate and honest exchanges of opinion in a safe environment prevents major problems.
We also hold adhoc full building circles if we feel that something has the potential to become a problem. For example, we had a large proactive drugs circle where we invited Compass in to do a talk about the dangers of drugs and invited all of the residents to talk about how drug taking affects them. We then asked the question “how can we prevent this becoming a problem?” All of the residents came up with some fantastic ideas and we all agreed a strategy going forward.
HULLHARP did the same regarding anti-social alcohol-related behaviour. This led to the installation of more litter bins around our projects.
Aspire was opened as a Restorative project so very much took the lead with all the proactive work, providing an excellent example of Restorative Practice’s community-building.
Sometimes we have to react to a situation and using Restorative Practice, this can be done in such a way that all parties feel like they have had their say. It also means that if someone has done something wrong, they have the opportunity to repair any harm that has been caused. They will be involved in any consequences and the person they have harmed has the time to express how the behaviour has made them feel.
The process is fair and consistent. We react to situations in a couple of different ways:
- Informal questioning
- Both parties are asked the same questions. What happened? What were your thoughts at the time? How can we prevent this happening again?
- Restorative Practice meeting
- Where a facilitation takes place between the two parties (usually the person that has behaved inappropriately and the person that has been affected), both are asked the same questions and this meeting, including the objectives set and the consequences, is documented.
- Restorative Practice Conference
- This is a larger version of the meeting and usually involves outside agency support (Compass, DIP, Probation)
- Withdrawal of Services
- In some circumstances we are left with no option but to withdraw our services. We only do this in extreme situations where it was previously agreed that the consequences of repeating certain behaviour will result in this action or if there has been gross misconduct.
We have found that our new way of reacting to situations applies the ownership to the client. They are fully aware of why their behaviour isn’t acceptable and in most cases come up with their own objectives in order to repair any harm caused.
Reintegration meetings will always be applied to service users where services have been withdrawn. Services will not be offered unless a service user agrees to attend the meeting. During the meeting, agreed objectives and expectations are decided together with the service user and clarified to all parties. Appropriate consequences need to be discussed and put in place to use, should the service user not adhere to their objectives.
For serious incidents a reintegration meeting should include a cross selection of staff, including a manager.
Should a service user have services withdrawn more than once in a period of six months, they will be placed on second stage reintegration. This will involve the service user attending five brief appointments on consecutive days in order to show their commitment to come back to the project. It will also provide the opportunity to demonstrate that the service user is engaging with external support agencies for various support needs, e.g. ADS alcohol support services etc. In the service user’s first reintegration meeting they shall have the process of second stage reintegration clearly explained to them.
Should a service user have services withdrawn more than twice in a period of six months, they will be placed on third stage reintegration. This involves the very same process as second stage reintegration but with ten brief appointments rather than five.