Saturday the 27th November 2021 saw the Make Amends Practitioners and volunteers come together in person for the first time in two years! The Development Day, usually an annual event, enables what is a remote working team spread across Devon and Cornwall to meet, learn, network, and review the service. 

This year’s event was held at the China Fleet Club and involved a number of guest speaker sessions and workshops. Lucy Evans, Service Manager opened the day with an overview of the service this year and what’s to come over the next months. John Hamblin, CEO of Shekinah then talked about some of Shekinah’s history and how Restorative Justice for him, fits within the remit of what Shekinah is looking to achieve. Following John, Dr Alan Butler from Pride in Plymouth shared more about the LGBTQ+ community and how Make Amends can work alongside Pride going forward to offer Restorative Justice to help address hate crime and hate incidences within the community. Alan has kindly summarised his talk below. 

The afternoon was started by Christiaan Stirling from the Emotional Logic Centre and Exciting Education who ran a workshop for the team and volunteers about Emotional Logic. The workshop focussed on how Emotional Logic can support those who access Restorative Justice to unravel emotions and address trauma. Christiaan kindly wrote a blog about his workshop which can be found on our website

Our Operations Lead, Aisa Withey followed Chris’ session with a World Café workshop. This explored different aspects of our Restorative Justice service and how we can evolve our offering going forward. Interesting discussions were held involving both our Practitioners and volunteers. 

We couldn’t let the day finish without plenty of thank yous and a Christmas quiz! We also awarded our volunteer Keith Nicholls with our Volunteer of the Year Award for 2021 and Nicky Salter with Volunteer RJ Family Worker of the Year 2021. 

It was refreshing to come together face to face as a whole team and look forward to our next Development Day in 2022. 

To find out more about Restorative Justice, please visit our web pages. You can also email makeamends@shekinah.co.uk or call 01803 222033 to find out more. 

Pride in Plymouth and Restorative Justice – thoughts from Dr Alan Butler

Pride in Plymouth has been operating as a community interest company since November 2014. There have been Pride organisations in the city prior to this but they were formed with very specific remits – to put on an event, or to work with certain bodies. Pride in Plymouth grew out of an LGBT+ archives project which was designed to engage people in the process of sharing their own story and seeing that story become part of the city’s history and heritage. As a result, our starting place was hearing what people had to say about who they were and how they lived their lives. Over the years, that archive work has developed and grown with stories being shared with the next generation in schools and with youth groups. 

Being heard, possible for the first time in recent history, has been a very important remit therefore for what we do and has been extended into other areas – some of which surprised us! So, as well as arranging events to bring together and support the community, we have found ourselves working very closely and advocating for LGBT+ asylums seekers who are in the city fleeing persecution. We have also become a Third-Party Reporting Centre for Devon and Cornwall Police with regards to hate crime. While we would encourage everyone to feel empowered to report hate crimes and incidents that affect them, some people do not feel able to do that and, in those instances, Pride in Plymouth can report on their behalf – keeping the individual completely anonymous if they wish. 

We have found that lots of LGBT+ people in Plymouth have quite a thick skin and often ignore certain low-level hate incidents. What we have often also found though, is that people will be prepared to report things to prevent it happening to their peers or, often, the next generation. They may not be looking for criminal proceedings in the more traditional sense but instead want things to change and for people to re-examine some of their attitudes and language. As a result, restorative justice can often be a useful tool in that process and, we are working with the police in that regard currently, to see if we can establish an awareness course which can be built into the restorative justice process.  Very often, conversations like this, become tied up in issues of language, representation and understanding. Today, LGBT+ encompasses a multitude of identities and, while it is imperative that people have the words to represent who they are, sometimes this can lead to confusion for people in understanding all this terminology. . . which can then lead to a fear of making a mistake.  That, in turn, can cause people to not engage in the conversations and, if this is the case, we fail to make progress for everyone. Pride in Plymouth’s work is principally a commitment to creating safe spaces, for helpful conversations to happen, which can then help move understanding and empathy along for everyone.