Baroness Newlove visits Cumbria to see Restorative Solutions' work in delivering family Restorative Justice

Baroness Newlove, the Victim's Commissioner and Deputy Speaker in the House of Lords came to visit the Step Up programme in Cumbria last week and to hear about its work in the area.

The Step Up Programme (called 'Restore Families' where it is delivered elsewhere in the UK) has been created by Restorative Solutions. The aim is to support families who are experiencing youth violence in their homes and the overall aim of the programme is to support young people to stop violent and abusive behaviour, to restore safety, trust and respect at home and to promote accountability to young people for their own behaviour.

Restorative Solutions aims to leave families with a more respectful model of behaviour established, with new methods for handling problems and conflict which will prevent further re-offences of violence and abuse by young people. Agreeing family safety is a priority of the programme and developing a 'safety plan' is a key aspect of the project.

Baroness Newlove came to the Women's Community Matters group organised by Cumbria's OPCC on 26th July and listened to our co-ordinator talk about the Step Up programme and its impact on families in the area. She had not heard of anyone else doing this type of work and as such thought it was much needed and important. Her feelings were that work such as the Step Up programme should not be allowed to just 'drop off the edge' due to funding cuts and would be best sitting within the community and with schools. Baroness Newlove stated that she was keen to get this onto the political agenda and take it to the House.

A family spoke to us about their experience of Step Up. The parent said

"Violence, anger, outbursts at home ground me down to a point, I couldn't see a way out. If we hadn't have come here I would have lost the relationship with my oldest and younger kids, would have kept going down the same path.

I know I am no longer alone and that it is OK to feel the way I do at times. I can expect my child to take responsibility for their actions and not feel bad about this. I feel I can talk to my daughter more calmly than I used to and am trying to see things from both sides and think about what it was like for me at her age. I learned better coping methods and communication. Better skills for conflict resolution. Better communication. Better strategies. my children all have strong vibrant personalities that could help them if used properly. We have more thought and respect. Overall my relationship with my kids has made massive progress in spite of ups and downs."

A young person said:

I've enjoyed it because I enjoy being a proper family and enjoying time as a family. If we hadn't have been in Step Up I'd probably had nothing to do with my family. If I'd carried on acting how I was acting I'd have ended up in a home.
I have improved in my behaviour, I started thinking more before I talked. I feel I am thinking more. I have changed in the way I don't kick off. I am doing better at school. I don't shout as much and I very rarely damage property or make unreasonable demands. I have learned how to control my temper and this will help me as an adult."

Our thanks go to Baroness Newlove for coming and visiting this programme and to our staff in Cumbria who deliver important work on the ground that impacts families and reduces offending. We are delighted that this work has been recommissioned until 2019 so we hope to help more families in the area.

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What people say about Restorative Solutions

I'm so glad I am working with RJ. I don't know who would listen to me if it wasn’t for you.
A Person Harmed by Crime
RJ is very underrated and I certainly think we should be using it more.
A Professional who Referred Someone into our Service
Very satisfied – it’s been a great service. A worthwhile process for me and I hope for the offenders. Staff have been great and I would like to thank them.
A victim
It was the right thing to do. Both victims told me to let go of what happened. I didn't want to hear it but they both forgave me and said I should move on. I have taken that on and thought about it and I have come to terms with what happened. You've helped me significantly. It's as though my head has been lifted of a gigantic weight.
An Offender
Thanks for your time today. I feel like you understand R so well, I really hope you can help him to learn how to be happy.
Feedback from a family in East Kent
Restorative Justice offers a unique opportunity for victims and survivors to move on from and overcome the trauma that can be left with them after experiencing crime. I am exceedingly proud of the work that the team at Restorative Solutions do in supporting our community. We should always consider the needs of victims of crime and this service exemplifies that sentiment and allows so many to put behind them what can be the worst experience of their lives.
Marc Jones, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner and Chair of the Association of Police and Crime Commissioners.

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