For Support Workers in our Young People’s services, it is important that they are able to guide their customers to reflect on and take responsibility when they make poor decisions. They may not previously have had the guidance or opportunity to take on a vital process of reflection. This practice, though often painful, supports the individual to understand the consequences of their behaviour, learn from it and develop empathy for others.

Kira, one of the Support Workers from Poplar Villa in Scarborough (a hostel service that supports young people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness) gives the story of KB* as a powerful example of restorative practice:

‘After an incident regarding KB stealing £20, from one of the mechanics at the garage where he was volunteering to gain work experience, all involved agreed to hold a restorative meeting. The garage manager, Steve, agreed to come to Poplar Villa where the meeting would be held.
The meeting lasted about an hour. Steve explained to KB the effects of his actions and the upset it has caused the victim. KB apologised to Steve and said he would be happy to also apologise to the victim in person. Steve explained to KB that giving young people work opportunities is an area he is extremely passionate about. He informed KB that if it had not been for the money being stolen, Steve would have not only paid KB a small amount for the volunteer work he had carried out, but also there may have been an opportunity for continued part-time work with the garage.
KB and Steve agreed to go to the garage under my supervision, and give KB the opportunity to apologise to the victim in person. The victim told KB that he was completing an apprenticeship with the garage, and that the £20 that KB stole was his weekly bus fare to travel to and from his placement. The victim also explained to KB that his mother is quite unwell and his family have limited funds to reimburse him for his loss of bus fare.
KB returned the £20 to the victim and stated, “Kira, this has been the worst day of my life.”
Overall, even though it was a difficult experience for KB, I feel that this restorative meeting was a success. I sincerely believe that this will have a longstanding effect on KB and increase his level of empathy towards others.  I will continue to be there for him as someone he can turn to for guidance’.

*The initials of the individual have been changed to protect their identity.