Frances Crook's blog · 29 Jun 2020
An opportunity to celebrate hard work and achievements
As a former recipient of a Howard League for Penal Reform Community Award, as both a runner-up and a winner, I was delighted to be asked to share my reflections on the last few months and of the awards themselves.
Remedi is a charity, founded in 1996. We are the contracted provider of Restorative Justice (RJ) services in seven policing areas – Cumbria, Humberside, Cheshire, South Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire and the West Midlands. We are also the contracted provider for RJ in eight Youth Justice Service areas and for the National Homicide Service.
Over the last 25 years we have developed our services in order to facilitate – direct restorative-based work in prisons, in support of families, intensive mentoring programmes for people caught up in crime and restorative approaches in regard to addressing community conflicts. Additionally, in 2016 we were delighted to secure the contract to provide victim services in Derbyshire, where we have developed extensive support programmes for victims of crime including a bespoke support service for young people, ‘Got Your Back’.
Clearly, no one would wish for the horrendous situation we have all experienced over the last few months, particularly those who have tragically lost family and friends. My over-riding emotion and reflection is one of the deepest regret and empathy for all those personally impacted.
My professional reflection, however, in regard to our teams and how we have collectively approached the last few months, is one of absolute pride. Like many organisations we have adapted how we work, embraced the available technology and maxed out our creative problem-solving skills. As a result, we have continued to provide our services and learned some intensely valuable lessons moving forward.
We have found that video-conferencing can be utilised effectively to deliver RJ. We would never advocate it as the sole method of delivery, but it certainly should be offered as an informed choice. We have facilitated more than 400 RJ cases since the lockdown began.
This creative approach has been important in our victim services work in Derbyshire. Using telephone and video-link methods, we have directly engaged and supported more than 1,600 victims of crime.
I would also like to showcase our youth criminal justice work, particularly the provision of community ‘reparation’. In ‘normal’ times this would largely take the format of supporting young people in multiple community settings to undertake positive and constructive work that directly benefits the community. Overnight that became impossible, so we developed a series of ‘remote reparation’ support packs. These enabled young people to create some truly amazing and inspirational pieces of work.
Young people have created posters and cards for elderly people living in care, which were shared with care homes across England. They have created information posters focused on youth mental health – sources of support, wellbeing advice, awareness raising – which were then shared with all of our partnership youth agencies. The outpouring of creativity and talent has been truly exceptional with artwork, poetry, raps, prose pieces etc etc… in abundance.
I am hugely proud of all of our teams. Their commitment, dedication, compassion and creativity has been a personal inspiration throughout this period and they should all be celebrated for what they have achieved. We will be submitting nominations for some of our work to the 2020 Community Awards.
Being shortlisted for, and indeed winning, the award in the past has been a source of huge pride for us, given the esteem and well-deserved regard in which the Howard League is held. However, whether shortlisted, runner-up or winner is a secondary motivating factor for me. There is something tangible and rewarding in making the nomination itself.
The opportunity to showcase aspects of your work and to sing from the rooftops about a project’s achievements and impacts should not be underestimated. I feel privileged to work alongside our colleagues and to see the impacts of their work, and any opportunity to celebrate their hard work and achievements is an opportunity not to be missed.
I would heartily encourage all organisations to enter the awards. Not too many though, because I’d still like to win!
Steve Jones, Director, Remedi